Most recent media attention on Cuba has focused on the health of long-time leader Fidel Castro. But while everyone has been reading the tea leaves in Havana, more Cubans have been quietly fleeing to the United States than ever before. According to a report by the University of Miami`s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, nearly 77,000 Cubans crossed into the United States in 2006 and 2007. That`s more than twice the number of refugees who arrived on Florida`s shores during the summer of 1994, when more than 38,000 Cubans fled the island after Castro opened the ports to all who wished to leave. If the current trend holds, the United States will have received 267,000 Cuban immigrants this decade. That`s more than any other decade since Castro took power in 1959.For a look at Cuban mechanical ingenuity in turning cars into sea-going vehicles like the one shown above, see photos and commentary about the Floating Cubans. Very amusing, but in fact more Cubans these days are coming through Mexico using the land route: Mexico: Cuban-Americans Fund Smugglers (AP Google, Dec 10, 2007).
The current flow from Cuba is not due to political persecution, as in years past. Surprisingly, it`s the country`s surging economy. Although the country`s GDP grew at an impressive 11.1 percent last year, the boom hasn`t translated into real employment opportunities on the ground. [The Cubans Are Coming, Foreign Policy, Dec 20 2007]
In a new trend, nearly 90 percent of all undocumented Cubans who make it to the United States now travel overland rather than reaching U.S. shores by boat, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.