Joe Biden Deports over 1,000 Cuban Refugees in Especially Violent Year for Dissidents
The U.S. Coast Guard has returned 1,019 Cuban refugees caught at sea to the communist country in 2021, agents of the Cuban regime said this week – up from just 49 in fiscal year 2020.
The Castro regime, through its state media, confirmed the number on Monday, noting that the Coast Guard had most recently returned a group of 39 refugees to the repressive country. This is despite a dramatic increase in politically driven state violence throughout the past year, particularly after July 11.
An estimated 187,000 people took to the streets of nearly every municipality in Cuba on that day demanding an end to the 62-year-old communist regime, peacefully assembling to sing and chant anti-communist slogans. The Castro regime responded with public beatings, door-to-door raids in which suspected protesters were shot in their own homes, and the mass arrest of anyone in the vicinity of the protests, often including children who had nothing to do with the event.
Protesters persisted in demanding regime change, even as many remained behind bars. A second wave of national protests occurred on November 15, this time led by nuns and priests demanding a peaceful democratic transition.
The protests have resulted in mass arrests, disappearances, and torture. The NGO Cuban Prisoners Defenders, which documents arrests of political dissidents, found a 500-percent increase in confirmed political arrests year-on-year in December. The NGO, like similar organizations conducting this research around the world, emphasized at the time that its confirmed number of political prisoners is far lower than the true number of those the Castro regime has imprisoned, as many have simply gone missing; confirming that they are in a prison facility is nearly impossible.
The administration of President Joe Biden has presided over a simultaneous increase in arrests and repatriations of Cuban refugees and increasing chaos at the U.S. southern border, where many Cuban dissidents have joined an increasingly diverse set of travelers seeking to enter America. Cuban dissidents seeking refuge in the United States have complained that attempts to receive political asylum have largely fallen on deaf ears, leading them to attempt the dangerous and costly trek to Mexico from countries that do not require visas for Cuban travelers.
The U.S.-based Cuban-interest media outlet Martí Noticias reported on Tuesday that among the over 1,000 Cubans returned to the communist regime were 20 refugees recently found traveling at sea near the Florida Keys. Martí observed that the hundreds of Cubans arrested throughout 2021 were a much larger contingent than the 49 “intercepted” in the 2020 fiscal year, the 313 intercepted in fiscal year 2019, and 259 intercepted in fiscal year 2018.
The number of Cubans attempting to flee the island by sea increased significantly under President Barack Obama, who in 2014 announced an extensive concessions package to enrich the Castro regime, arguing that doing so would result in better relations between Washington and Havana. Videos from the shores of Florida of Cuban balseros, or rafters, landing to the applause and welcome of Cuban-Americans on the beach became increasingly common until, in another blow to the Cuban human rights cause, President Obama repealed the “wet foot/dry foot” policy that allowed the balseros to stay in America legally if they touched American soil.
President Donald Trump undid many Obama-era concessions, including allowing cruise ships to use stolen ports to profit from business with the Castro regime and ending the “people-to-people” embargo exception that saw a parade of American celebrities – including Kanye West, Katy Perry, and Diplo – visit the island, protected by their wealth from seeing the reality of Cuban life under communism.
Under the Biden administration, the U.S. Embassy in Cuba – reopened while Biden served as vice president after decades of closure – has taken to requesting that Cubans endure the horrors of the Castro regime rather than attempt to seek freedom in America.
“From October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021, the Coast Guard intercepted 838 Cuban migrants [sic],” the embassy wrote in Spanish on its Twitter account last week. “From October 1, 2021, to today, they have done the same with 402 [refugees]. Please, do not take to the sea. Protect your life and those of your loved ones.”
Del 1ro de octubre de 2020, al 30 de septiembre de 2021, las tripulaciones de los guardacostas interceptaron 838 migrantes cubanos.
Del 1ro de octubre de 2021, a la fecha, lo han hecho con 402.
Por favor, no te tires al mar.
Cuida tu vida y la de tus familiares. pic.twitter.com/cDV1hwjCgw
— Embajada de los Estados Unidos en Cuba (@USEmbCuba) December 20, 2021
Most Cuba policy under Biden has not changed since the Trump years.
A senior official in the Biden administration admitted this month that the July 11 protests were partially to blame for Biden reconsidering a campaign promise to return to Obama-era appeasement, as going back to Obama’s Cuba policies was now too politically expensive for the White House.
“After July 11, we hit the pause button. Even those Cuban-Americans that were pro-engagement said, ‘We need to wait — we need to look at this moment and figure out how we move forward from here,’” National Security Council senior director for the Western Hemisphere, Juan Gonzalez, told NBC News. “Engagement” is the euphemism many on the left use for enabling human rights abuses by conducting business with the Castro regime.