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Cuban-Americans both celebrate, mourn end of ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy

Cuban refugees floating on the fragile vessel 60 miles south of Key West, Florida.

(AP)

MIAMI – Members of the Cuban exile community in South Florida are expressing strong opinions about the new revoked “wet foot, dry foot” policy.

The change Tursday was effective immediately. From now on, a Cuban who tries to come to the U.S. without a visa will be repatriated.

Since the Obama administration announced the normalization of relations with Cuba, this repeal is a big fear for many people who live in South Florida and his family in Cuba.

“By making it immediate, it’s very important, strategic, moves to ensure that you don’t see a mass migration event is taking place in the near future,” said Brian Fonseca, a professor at Florida International University.

Cuban activist Ramon Saul Sanchez has many Cuban immigrants settled in South Florida over the years as they arrive on the shore.

He fears the effect that this will have on the island nation. “We do not understand why this step is taken in a such irresponsible way,” Sanchez said, “that could send waves of panic in Cuba. Cubans cannot leave Cuba, because there is a favourable legislation in the United States. They leave Cuba because there is an oppressive regime in Cuba.”

According to a senior administration official, the two countries have been negotiating this policy for some time, which also includes an agreement of Cuba that those who of the USA to be allowed to return to the island nation.

There is a mixed reaction from Cuban-Americans at the Café Versailles in Little Havana and Miami Beach.

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“[Policy] was the attacks of our young people in particular and our people, because the majority of the people who [attempted to travel] had a large percentage of as a failure, and lost their lives on the road,” said Jorge Bernal, through a translator.

“They can’t let the people go back to Cuba because the government of Castro is alive,” one man said. “They kill the people of the United States, who returned to Cuba.”

Cafe Versailles patron Armando Gutierrez said that he agrees with the policy change. “I am happy. They must stay there and fight to get free, instead of you to come here and do nothing,” he said.

“Another betrayal of this country to Cuba,” said another man in the Café Versailles. “Barack Obama, I don’t believe him at all. He is just a liar and only allows for situations to come closer to Raul Castro.”

In a statement released by the US. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R, Fla., she said: “In another bad deal by the Obama administration, has traded ‘wet foot, dry foot’ for the elimination of an important program, that was trying to undermine the Castro regime by providing an outlet for Cuban doctors to seek freedom from forced labour, that only the benefits of an oppressive regime.”

The White House released a statement that said in part, “the Taking of this step, we treat Cuban migrants the same way that we deal with migrants from other countries. The Cuban government has approved the return of Cuban nationals who have been ordered to be removed as it is to accept the return of migrants interdicted at sea.”

According to the U.S. coast guard, the officials come in contact with 1,885 Cuban migrants since October, 2016. In the previous year, they came in contact with 7,411 Cuban migrants.

 

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