CubaBrief: How Biden Administration policy concessions to Havana fuel the current exodus from Cuba, and cost Cuban lives.

Over 220,000 Cubans arrived in the United States in fiscal year 2022.

Prior Cuban migration crises, such as Mariel in 1980 and the Central American exodus (2014-2016) , occurred following years of economic sanctions relief under the Carter and Obama administrations. What changed between May 2020 and May 2022 to account for the new and troubling exodus of Cuban refugees?

Last deportation flight was in late December 2020

The last deportation flight accepted by the Castro regime was in late December 2020 carrying 48 Cubans. This was at the height of the pandemic. It was also the last full month of the Trump Administration. The attempt to spin the shut down in deportation flights as a consequence of the pandemic, and not the Biden campaign broadcasting that they would return to Obama era Cuba policies.

11J nationwide protests and crackdown

Nationwide July 11, 2021 protests rocked the Castro dictatorship, exposed the repressive nature of the regime to the international community along with its unpopularity with the majority of Cubans. Over the past year and a half the Castro regime engaged in a nationwide crackdown on dissenters, and over a thousand new prisoners of conscience jailed.

Afghanistan fiasco

The Biden administration that had promised to return to the Obama Cuba policy entered the White House on January 20, 2021. This started a modest increase in Cuban migrants arriving at U.S. shores, but it was the messy exodus from Afghanistan in August 2021 that coincided with a marked increase in Cubans arriving in the United States a month later.

Managua lifts visa requirements for Cubans to enter Nicaragua

Daniel Ortega’s dictatorship in Nicaragua, an ally of communist Cuba, announced that on November 22, 2021 it would lift visa requirements for Cubans traveling to the Central American country. Sebastián Arcos spoke with José Díaz-Balart of NBC News to discuss this new policy from Managua that would open a new path for Cuban migrants to reach the United States, and create an even greater crisis on the U.S. Mexican border.

Engaging Havana’s client state Venezuela

U.S. officials met with Venezuelans, a client state of the Castro dictatorship, on March 5, 2022, It coincided with the month that the exodus from Cuba doubled, from 16,657 in February 2022 to 32,398 Cubans arriving in the United States in March 2022. This was followed by a further increase in the month of April 2022 to 35,080 Cubans entering the United States when the Biden Administration announced migration talks with Havana.

What was going on to explain this massive increase?

U.S. officials visited Caracas on March 5, 2022, to meet with Nicolás Maduro, despite not officially recognizing him as legitimate due to a stolen election. On April 21, 2022, Washington and Havana held migration talks, the first in four years, and on May 16, 2022, the United States announced changes to Cuba policy that included measures viewed as concessions to the regime in Havana. This was one day after Havana passed a draconian penal code that expanded the death penalty against dissidents.

Another greenlight to kill Cubans.

On October 28, 2022 off the coast of Bahía Honda, Artemisa Province a boat carrying Cuban refugees was purposefully rammed and sunk by a Ministry of the Interior vessel. Marti Noticias interviewed Diana Meizoso, who was injured in the attack and whose two-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Meizoso, was killed. She described what happened, and the Miami Herald translated it into English as follows.

On Monday, Meizoso González told the U.S.-based Radio Marti that the Cuban coast guard officers intentionally hit their boat. The man at the helm of the speedboat “slowed down because he saw himself surrounded because another boat was coming,” Meizoso González said in an audio interview. “When we passed them by, [a Cuban coast guard officer] said: ‘Now I’m going to split them in half,’ and then he rammed us.” At that point, she said, she hit her head and lost consciousness, and her daughter slipped away. Other survivors interviewed by Miami station America TV provided a similar account.

The names of the seven victims are: Aimara Meizoso León, Elizabeth Meizoso (age two), Indira Serrano Cala, Omar Reyes Valdés, Nathali Acosta Lemus, Yerandy García Meizoso, and Israel Gómez.

This is the latest in a series of massacres by the Castro regime to prevent Cubans fleeing the dictatorship. They continue to use the same strategies since the communist dictatorship was established in Cuba. Attack boats ram and break the fleeing vessel in half, then drown the passengers by creating eddies, physically attacking them as they try to swim, or using powerful jets of water to drown migrants.

High profile examples of this pattern have been documented: the “13 de Marzo” tugboat massacre in 1994, the Canímar River massacre in 1980, and the massacre of Barlovento in 1962. Ministry of the Interior vessels of the Cuban dictatorship were (and are) used as weapons against Cubans trying to flee the island, regardless of the presence of children, women, or elderly people.

Castro was inspired by the murderous tactics of the border guards at the Berlin Wall

This practice, is similar to the orders issued to East German border guards on October 1, 1973 to not show mercy to “border breachers,” including women and children:

“It is your duty to use your combat … skills in such a way as to overcome the cunning of the border breacher, to challenge or liquidate him in order to thwart the planned border breach… Don’t hesitate to use your weapon even when border breaches happen with women and children, which traitors have often exploited in the past.”

At Brandenburg Gate on June 14, 1972, Fidel Castro addressed the men charged with shooting East Germans fleeing the German Democratic Republic (GDR) to West Germany as “the courageous and self-denying border guards of the GDR People’s Army, who stand guard in the front line of the entire-socialist community.” Later in the evening, Premier Castro addressed the Nikolay Bezarin Barracks in East Berlin:

“It is very important to know that the people of the GDR have great confidence in you, that they are truly proud of you. The comrades of the party and the citizens of socialist Berlin have told us with great satisfaction about the activity of the border troops, speaking with great admiration for you and for your services.”

This is what someone at the Cuban Embassy in Havana ignored when they Tweeted out that the October 28, 2022 massacre was an “accident”:

“The United States sends our condolences to the families of the Cubans who died today in an accident north of Bahía Honda. As we expand safe and legal pathways for migration, we warn against attempting dangerous and sometimes fatal irregular migration.”

The Center for a Free Cuba called them out on it highlighting a prior official communication of the U.S. government during the Clinton Administration that exposed the extreme cruelty of the Castro dictatorship against fleeing Cuban refugees.

Weaponizing migration

Kelly M. Greenhill, an American political scientist and an associate professor at Tufts University, in her 2002 paper “Engineered Migration and the Use of Refugees as Political Weapons: A Case Study of the 1994 Cuban Balseros Crisis” described a pattern first established by the Castro regime in the 1965 Camarioca crisis during the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration to use “coercive engineered migration” to create instability in the United States and gain leverage in negotiations between the two countries.

This tactic was repeated during the Carter, Clinton, and Obama Administrations because Havana correctly reasoned there would be no negative consequences.

This is what is taking place now, and it negatively impacts U.S. interests, is getting Cubans killed, and the only ones benefiting from the chaos they have unleashed is the Castro dictatorship in Havana.

Voice of America, November 11, 2022


Cuba Agrees to Accept US Deportation Flights as Border Crossings Rise

November 11, 2022 8:13 PM


WASHINGTON – Cuba has agreed for the first time since the pandemic to accept U.S. deportation flights carrying Cubans caught at the U.S.-Mexico border, three U.S. officials told Reuters, giving U.S. authorities a new but limited tool to deter record numbers of Cuban border-crossers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has about a dozen Cubans in custody who failed an initial screening for asylum at the border, the officials said, requesting anonymity to discuss the diplomatic situation. The U.S. agency is waiting until it has enough Cuban deportees to fill a plane before sending one to Havana, they said.

A third source familiar with the matter said there was not a new formal agreement for regular deportation flights, but that Cuba had agreed to accept occasional groups of deportees.

Regular deportations of Cubans were halted during the COVID-19 pandemic, though the United States continued to deport a small number of Cubans via commercial airlines, a separate U.S. official told Reuters.

The U.S. State Department, the White House and ICE did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

About 1,500 Cubans were removed in fiscal year 2020, which began Oct. 1, 2019, the year regular deportation flights were paused, according to data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The resumption of ICE deportation flights to Cuba could send a symbolic message to would-be migrants who typically fly to Central America and travel north to the border. A record 220,000 Cubans were caught at the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30. The vast majority were released into the United States to pursue immigration cases.

Communist-run Cuba is obligated by previous migration accords to accept its nationals returned by the United States. The most recent bilateral agreement was reached in January 2017 shortly before then-President Barack Obama left office.

The U.S. Coast Guard has continued to turn around migrants caught at sea and has repatriated upward of 5,600 migrants thus far this year, according to Cuba official media reports.

Top U.S. immigration officials visited Havana this week — the highest-level U.S. visit since the historic rapprochement under former President Obama — as the migration crisis worsens.

U.S. authorities made more than 2.2 million migrant arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2022, higher than any year on record. Of those, about 1 million were quickly expelled to Mexico or other countries under a pandemic-era order known as Title 42. But just 2% of Cubans apprehended at the border were expelled in the 2022 fiscal year.

Translating Cuba, November 4, 2022

Justicia Cuba Calls the ‘Bahia Honda Massacre’ a Crime Against Humanity

From left right and from top to bottom, Aimara Meizoso León, Elizabeth Meizoso, Indira Serrano Cala, Omar Reyes Valdés, Nathali Acosta Lemus and Yerandy García Meizoso, six of the seven victims of Bahía Honda. (Collage)

EFE (via 14ymedio), Miami, 4 November 2022 — A commission formed by lawyers, parliamentarians and politicians from several countries stated on Thursday that the death of seven occupants of a boat hit by a border guard ship in Cuba may constitute a “crime against humanity” and asked the Cuban people for evidence to denounce it.

The International Justice Cuba Commission, created in order to bring to international justice those responsible for human rights violations in Cuba, echoed the allegations of survivors and relatives of the seven dead.

In statements released by Miami media, several people said in recent days that the ship of the border guards cut off the boat, in which 23 people were traveling to the United States, and rammed it.

Diana Meizoso, who saw her two-year-old daughter die in the collision that occurred in Bahía Honda, told Radio Televisión Martí on Monday: “They rammed the boat and broke it in half.”

According to Meizoso, when the patrol ship passed their boat, “he (the border guard officer) said: “Now I’m going to break you in half,” and then rammed us and broke the boat in the middle.”

The Cuban exile in Miami described from the first moment as a “massacre” what happened in Bahía Honda on September 29 and announced for this Saturday an act of support to the victims and their families.

The Justice Cuba Commission, led by Mexican jurist René Bolio, said on Thursday in a statement in Miami that it had analyzed all the available information about “the Bahía Honda massacre,” where “several innocent civilians were killed by Cuban dictatorship officials.”

“These crimes, for their notorious cruelty, for being by the dictatorship against citizens, for having been committed by members of the system, for having used means owned by the dictatorship, and for several other elements, are considered crimes against humanity, according to the Statute of Rome,” he emphasized.

According to the commission, those responsible for these crimes “are not only the material executors, but the full chain of command,” and “universal jurisdiction means that any established court can prosecute such crimes.”

The Commission asked the Cuban people and everyone who has “evidence, proof and information” to send it to

They also request “all means of identification of the criminals, their identity, positions, hierarchy and current location.”

The purpose of the Justice Cuba Commission is to constitute an international court to judge the crimes against humanity committed in Cuba.

In July 2017, the then-called International Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against Humanity by Cuba held its first public hearing in Miami, in which victims and witnesses of human rights violations in Cuba participated from 1959 to the present day under the slogan of “Never forget.”

Translated by Regina Anavy