Cuban-American Plans for Post-Castro May Hit Roadblocks
By Steve Mort
07 November 2006
Many Cubans living in the United States are drawing up plans to return
to the island amid fresh speculation over the health of Cuban leader
Fidel Castro. Cuban-Americans are keeping a close eye on reports the
80-year-old leader has terminal cancer. But the hopes by many to return
to Cuba may be more difficult than anticipated.
Miami is home to some 600,000 Cubans — some have been here for nearly
half a century. And Fidel Castro’s poor health has re-energized those
planning a return to their homeland in the event of political change.
Cuban-American would love to return
One of many Cuban-Americans who would love to return to Cuba
One man said he would return. “I would love to go back. I would love to
possibly try to reclaim my grandmother’s old house”.
The U.S. government says Cuban-Americans should allow those in Cuba to
take charge of a transition.
But a lot of exiles, like the Cuban-American National Foundation’s
Francisco Hernandez, plan to weigh in. “As part of the Cuban people, we
are very much concerned with the future and the destiny of Cuba. And we
should do whatever we can, by peaceful means, but whatever we can in
order to protect and help the Cuban people in their transit to
democracy. We should not wait for all of that to happen in order for us
And it is that post-Castro participation which is troubling some
“What is being proposed, and that is rule by a minority that has been
absent from the country for almost half a century, that is fundamentally
unacceptable to the Cuban people,” says Luis Martinez-Fernandez, a Cuba
expert at The University of Central Florida.
He also says Cuban-Americans may try to reclaim property seized by the
government. “It would be very unfair for people who have been outside of
Cuba for decades to come back to Cuba and take advantage of the poverty
of the Cuban people, and buy their homes cheap and speculate and be able
to, you know, have a privilege in terms of establishing a whole range of
According to Martinez Fernandez, Cubans living in homes given to them by
the government more than 30 years ago would be protected under
international law from having their homes taken back by the original owners.
The Cuban-American National Foundation’s Francisco Hernandez blames
Havana for stirring up fears in Cuba over a return of exiles. “A lot of
propaganda saying a number of lies about the exile community — we want
to go back there and we want to take over the government and we want to
get the people out of their homes where they are, and we want to take
all their jobs and all these things. You know, it’s completely absurd.”
Others though, like José Basulto who formed a group in 1991 to assist
raft refugees, criticize advocates of a quick return to Cuba. “I think
it would be premature for the people here in Miami to try to jump into a
situation which they’re not too familiar with and it would create
conflicts that would, at least at the beginning, create more problems
than they would solve. However, they should have a say in the future of
Cuba and I think it should be gradual.”
And gradual is how the U.S. government would like it. Washington has
backed a plan to create a tribunal to balance the needs of ordinary
Cubans and U.S. claimants.
But while many officials believe Fidel Castro is unlikely to return to
power, they say the kind of transition envisaged by Cuban-Americans is
probably some way off.