The liberation and return to Cuba of the kidnapped boy Elián González alongside his poised and brave father --after seven months of vigorous, restless, clever and resolute struggle-- meant for our homeland an honorable and deserved victory. This battle that we were prepared to wage right through the end clearly showed the unity and firmness of our people, their heroism and fighting capacity.

It is essential to continue, without wasting a minute, without giving in to fatigue, until the causes that gave rise to that tragedy are removed. It is imperative to do everything necessary to prevent a repetition of the same and this will be possible only by defeating the criminal, immoral and discriminatory immigration policy implemented by the imperialism against Cuba from the triumph of the Revolution and manifested in the Cuban Adjustment Act. This is a perverse policy, deliberately conceived to destabilize and undermine Cuban society and cynically calculated to bring about death and suffering while shamefully manipulating the tragedies caused by this Act.

This legislative abomination, adopted in 1966, was intended above all to benefit Batista’s followers. Its text explicitly emphasizes that it was approved to benefit those who had escaped from Cuba on January 1, 1959, leaving out the considerable number of Cubans who had migrated to the United States before or during the dictatorship. Therefore, from the very beginning, the Cuban Adjustment Act reflected a discriminatory and immoral stance against the Cuban people. Those who arrived in the United States on that date, or in the years immediately following, in the early 1960s, did not do so on flimsy, makeshift vessels. Actually, they left on luxury yachts, private airplanes or regularly scheduled flights, which traveled directly to and from Cuba until the Yankee authorities banned them at the end of 1962, as part of the economic war against our country.

By extending the Act to apply indefinitely into the future, after having severed diplomatic relations, suspended the granting of visas and eliminated the possibilities of traveling normally between the two countries, the only goal pursued was that of encouraging Cubans to attempt to migrate illegally by sea, with all the dangers involved. For many years, those that did so could count on the active cooperation of the U.S. authorities and Coast Guard Service, which systematically and regularly picked up travelers from the sea near Cuba and transported them to American territory. Others, unfortunately, lost their lives when they were not lucky enough to come across U.S. naval units en route. Both, those who made it and those who did not, have been shamelessly used by the empire for the anti-Cuban propaganda on which billions of dollars have been spent over the last four decades.

By misrepresenting facts and spreading lies as part of a larger operation, they have tried to portray Cubans as people who want to "escape" to the United States, and the United States as the "generous" nation that takes them in. Neither claim could be further from the truth, which can be proven based on official U.S. statistics.

Despite the fact that for over 40 years there has been a special policy exclusively designed for Cuba, manifested in the Adjustment Act and promoted through various means, aimed at encouraging illegal migration from the country while the Cuban people have been the sole target of a genocidal economic war which, among other things, creates conditions that foster the migratory trend, Cuba is not one of the countries that contributes the largest number of immigrants. There are various countries in our continent with smaller populations and higher numbers of emigrants than Cuba. If there were a way to precisely calculate those who remain in the United States undocumented, the contrast would be even more striking: there are countless millions of undocumented Latin Americans living in the United States, while thanks to the infamous Adjustment Act no Cuban immigrant is illegal.

Throughout all of these years, and at an every increasing rate, large numbers of would-be immigrants of other nationalities have also attempted to reach the coasts of the United States from more distant shores, without ever receiving the protection and assistance of the U.S. Coast Guards, who invariable send them back to their countries if they find them. Forced to evade the U.S. authorities, these emigrants have always met even greater dangers and suffered more human losses. However, little is said about them. Their tragedy is ignored and those who manage to enter the United States join the millions of undocumented illegal aliens, victims of constant persecution by that country’s Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The United States has criminally incited Cubans to risk their lives in dangerous sea crossings with the sole, ignoble and repugnant purpose of slandering Cuba and grossly distorting its image. For those prepared to risk their own lives and those of others, including women, children and the elderly, the United States opens its doors; these do not need to comply with any requirements. As a result, it has admitted thousands of individuals who have been or would have been denied a visa to migrate legally, including a considerable number with thick criminal records. This is how the hateful business of alien smuggling has flourished associated with drug smuggling while no effective measures have been adopted to confront it.

After having suffered the real experience of living in that corrupt, violent, racist and profoundly unfair society, and being subjected to exploitation and discrimination, many Cubans or their descendants sadly yearn for the homeland they lost.

In 1994 and 1995, Washington signed immigration agreements with Cuba, thus taking on the commitment to put an end to this irresponsible policy and strive to channel emigration exclusively through legal, safe and orderly procedures. These agreements have made it possible for a significant number of people to migrate in an orderly fashion. But, they have not led to a normal migratory process because their implementation has been undermined by the ever-present goal of using the migratory issue as part of the United States’ arsenal against the Cuban Revolution. In fact, the Cuban Adjustment Act --particularly following the provisions adopted by the INS last year-- and its application constitute an ongoing violation of these agreements further infringed by the constant incitement to illegal migration through radio broadcasts originated in the United States, some of which are even officially sponsored.

Meanwhile, Cuba has strictly honored all its commitments. We have done everything within our power to prevent illegal migration through peaceful means and have respected the other aspects contained in the agreements.

The United States must put an end to its criminal, irresponsible and demagogic policy, conceived and implemented against the Cubans, which is detrimental to other Latin Americans and harmful to the interests of the American people. The murderous Cuban Adjustment Act must be repealed.

What needs adjustment is the situation of millions of Latin Americans and other immigrants who suffer persecution, discrimination and humiliation in a country where they work hard in extreme conditions of exploitation and abuse.

If the United States is prepared to grant legal residence to any Cuban who enters its territory --as it does with those who unnecessarily risk their lives-- then it should be willing to grant visas to all those who wish to migrate legally and orderly and it should not demand from them any documentation as it does in the case of those who show contempt for both its laws and ours.

This monstrous crime against the Cuban people must end. The gruesome and cynical exploitation of human beings must end. The repulsive smuggling of human beings and shameful official tolerance of this infamous practice must end. The genocide, the lies and the disdain for life must end. The xenophobia, oppression, hatred and abuse suffered by Latin American immigrants must end.

We will keep on struggling until this goal is attained. We will keep on struggling to fulfill the Oath of Baraguá. We will do it with the same energy and tenacity we put in to save Elián. Our battle is to save the homeland. It is a fight for life.


City of Havana, July 12, 2000

National Assembly of People’s Power