Immigration: With a ruse to apply for asylum – why Cubans suddenly want to go to Germany – WELT

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DrIt is an exceptional development. The number of people from Cuba applying for asylum in Germany increased eight times in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period last year. While there were still 73 in 2022, the number has now risen to more than 607 asylum applications. About that was the first “Sunday picture” Citing figures from the Ministry of the Interior.

This number is small compared to, for example, the number of asylum applications from countries in the Middle East, but the authorities are interested in what is behind the sharp increase. On the one hand, they want to know how smugglers cheat the asylum system. And why Germany seems to be more important to refugees from Cuba – even though up to 95 percent of asylum applications from Cubans in that country are rejected.

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The method looks amazingly simple. According to the authorities, some Cubans have booked a ticket to a European destination for which they do not need a visa. This includes, for example, the Serbian capital, Belgrade. Passengers do not then travel to Serbia, but use the stopover at Frankfurt/Main Airport to apply for asylum in Germany from there.

Apparently, gangs of people smugglers are increasingly using countries friendly to the Cuban government as fake travel destinations. President of Cuba Miguel Diaz Canel Only traveled to Serbia in June. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told his counterpart, “In the heart of Europe, there is a people who support it.”

But according to media reports, the dissident circles also made allegations that Cuban employees might be involved in smuggler gangs’ business in the Allied states. For example, the Tourism Authority, which must authorize Cuban citizens to travel abroad, is controlled by high-ranking military officials, among whom corruption is widespread.

Desperation increased in Cuba

The growing despondency of the Cuban population and the associated desire to leave their homeland has become an increasingly profitable business model. Just this week, during a move by the Serbian and Greek police, as well as Europol and Interpol, a gang of people smugglers who brought Cubans from Serbia to Spain and thus to the European Union for a “fee” of about 9,000 euros was busted. The country is attractive to Cubans because they speak the same language, and many Cuban exiles live there. During the police action, more than 35 people who were said to have worked for the smuggling network were arrested. Another 25 Cubans with fake European passports were arrested.

The development surprised Europe. Until now, the main target has been Cuban refugees Especially the United States. According to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), more than 44,000 Cubans arrived at the border in December 2022 alone, bringing the total number of arrivals to 313,488 – in just one year.

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But this does not mean that the refugees will remain in the United States. Right before the end of their presidency, Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden tightened the asylum law again in 2017. Since then, Cubans have been deported en masse. The two ideological foes, Washington and Havana, are now working seamlessly together on the repatriation of refugees.

Recently, the number of deportation flights has increased even more, despite the growing repression in Cuba. The Biden administration warns Cubans: Anyone who enters the country illegally will be deported immediately.

However, the number of boat passengers from the Caribbean island to the American mainland has increased dramatically since 2021. In the summer of the same year, the government in Havana cracked down on the social protests that had begun and led to a mass exodus. At the time, tens of thousands of people on the socialist-ruled island demanded a democratic opening to the dictatorial one-party system. It is also the disastrous supply situation and stagnant economy that has led to the largest anti-government demonstrations in the country’s history so far.

Mass arrest after the protests

The government of President Diaz-Canel responded Mass arrests. Havana accuses the United States of being responsible for the supply crisis through a decades-old trade embargo. The government did not convince its population of this for a long time. Even former President Raul Castro admitted in the past that the embargo is not all of Cuba’s economic problems.

According to the NGO Prisoners Defenders, there are more than 1,000 political prisoners in Cuba’s prisons, among them many young Cubans who have demonstrated peacefully for the first time in their lives. The government deliberately gives dissidents a choice: leave the country or go to jail. Afro-Cuban artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and Grammy winner Michael Castillo, who refused to leave Cuba, are serving long prison sentences. Both had supported the protest movement peacefully with artwork and songs critical of the government.

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Members of two groups of Cuban immigrants from Matanzas, Cuba, stand in the sun alongside US 1 in Middle Keys Island, Duck Key, Florida, on Monday, January 2, 2023. They said they have been standing there waiting to be picked up by US Border Patrol agents since arriving in two rustic ships.  (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP)

Escape from socialism

In the history of the Cuban Revolution, there have always been phases in which the regime of “Maximo Leader” Fidel Castro deliberately allowed the mass exodus of Cubans critical of the government. In the 1980s, Castro accused refugees of being a “work-shy rabble”. After immigrating to the United States, these same people contributed greatly to the development of the city that is now a place many Cubans and Latin Americans long for: Miami.

Among those imprisoned in Cuba for two years was Cuban-German Luis Frometa from Dresden, who filmed the protests on July 11, 2021. According to the International Association for Human Rights (IGFM), he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for “incitement to riot.” Since then, his family in Germany has been trying to draw attention to the fate of the German Cuban.

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