The Mariel Boatlift of 1980 Origins and Consequences In April 1980|Quick homework help

Posted: February 18th, 2023

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This criterion is linked to a Learning Outcome Proper Format

1. Must be in MLA or APA format 2. Must be double spaced 3. Proper Use of Citations 4. Grammar/Syntax

students will be expected to write a 3-page paper summarizing the content of the assigned sources. Your summary should take up approximately 2.5 pages. Your reflection should take up at least half a page.

Summary (2.5-page minimum)

· What is the article about (summarize)

· What argument(s) is the author (or authors) making?

Reflection (.5 page minimum)

· Can you relate to the content discussed? If so, how? If you do not relate, do you know someone who can? (Family, friend, peer, etc.)

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Chapter 2 The Mariel Boatlift of 1980 Origins and Consequences

In April 1980, as he had fifteen years earlier, Castro announced that all who desired to leave Cuba would be permitted to do so, this time from the port of Mariel.

Thousands of emigrés sailed across the Florida Straits in yachts, sailboats, shrimpers, and even freighters to pick up their relatives and any others who wanted to

leave. Between April and October 1980, 124,776 Cubans arrived in the U.S., comprising the third wave of Cuban migration. 1

Mariel provides one of the most fascinating case studies in recent immigration history, not only for the circumstances of the migration but for the controversy it

engendered. The government’s inability to control the migration raised important questions about President Jimmy Carter’s leadership (as well as about the adequacy

of American immigration policy) and ultimately contributed to Carter’s electoral defeat in 1980. Few immigrant groups elicited as much negative response as the

marielitos. Public opinion turned against them when the press revealed that Castro had used the boatlift to rid the island of “undesirables” and that among the new

immigrants were hundreds, if not thousands, of criminals. Even the exile community turned against this new wave, afraid that their golden reputations as model

immigrants would be tarnished by the criminal element. Unlike the earlier refugees, the marielitos encountered hostility and discrimination wherever they settled.

Neither their homeland nor their host society wanted them.

C o p y r i g h t 1 9 9 6 . U n i v e r s i t y o f C a l i f o r n i a P r e s s .

A l l r i g h t s r e s e r v e d . M a y n o t b e r e p r o d u c e d i n a n y f o r m w i t h o u t p e r m i s s i o n f r o m t h e

p u b l i s h e r , e x c e p t f a i r u s e s p e r m i t t e d u n d e r U . S . o r a p p l i c a b l e c o p y r i g h t l a w .

EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 2/17/2023 5:50 PM via FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY AN: 6878 ; Maria Cristina Garcia.; Havana USA : Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959-1994 Account: s8862125.main.ehost


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1978–1979: The Origins of Mariel

While Mariel caught immigration authorities by surprise, the migration was understandable in light of the events of the late 1970s. In September 1978, during a press

conference with Cuban exile journalists, Fidel Castro invited emigrés to a dialogue in Cuba to discuss several issues of importance to the exile community, including the

fate of political prisoners and a possible family reunification program. Castro announced that upon the successful completion of the diálogo the government was

prepared to release up to three thousand political prisoners. 2

The invitation to the diálogo was a radical departure from Cuban policy, and it stunned the emigré community. Particularly surprising was the conciliatory tone of

Castro’s invitation, since over the past two decades he had rarely missed an opportunity to attack the gusanos. Only three years earlier, he told foreign journal

Your summaries must be double-spaced with 12pt Times New Roman Font. You MUST include a bibliography/works cited. You  MUST insert in-text citations after a direct quote(s) or after any summarized/paraphrased section. Please review the sample paper and rubrics carefully. Do NOT include a header on the first page of your paper (it takes up space).

3 Page Minimum

not including bibliography Include the title, but do not include a heading


ists that

although a reconciliation with the United States was possible, emigrés would never be forgiven for deserting the homeland and would never be allowed to return.3 But

political and economic circumstances now forced the government to extend an olive branch to the exile community. During the press conference, he carefully referred

to the emigrés as “the Cuban community abroad” rather than the usual gusanos, escoria, and apátridas (people without a country) and publicly stated that perhaps he

had “misjudged” the community.4

Castro’s move was politically astute. There had been a gradual thawing in the tensions between the United States and Cuba since the Ford administration, culminating

in 1977 in the establishment of limited diplomatic representation in the form of “interests sections.”5 By 1978, however, a number of issues had brought negotiations for

full diplomatic relations and the lifting of the trade embargo to an impasse, most notably U.S. opposition to Cuba’s military presence in Angola. Through the diálogo,

Castro hoped to keep the lines of communication open. By appealing to the exile community, he sought to influence the segment of American society most opposed to

renewing diplomatic relations, and he used the two issues of most importance to emigrés to bargain for support for his political agenda. Castro also hoped to improve

his image abroad. In the 1970s, his government had lost international support because of its worsening human rights record. His vow to release

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thousands of political prisoners was a humanitarian gesture that promised to pacify critics, particularly among the European intelligentsia.

In reality, the Carter administration was partly responsible for Castro’s about­face. Throughout 1978, as part of Carter’s human rights agenda, members of the

administration met with Cubans in New York and Havana to discuss a number of issues, among them the release of political prisoners. A preliminary agreement for the

release of thousands of prisoners was reached as early as August 1978, but when the Carter administration refused to publicly acknowledge its role in the negotiations,

the Castro government decided to use the scheduled prisoner release program as a public relations campaign to improve relations with the exile community. 6

Exiles were unaware of the negotiations between the United States and Cuba, and consequently Castro’s invitation spurred intense debate. A segment of the exile

community reacted enthusiastically to the new developments, even praising the regime for its conciliatory gesture. Hundreds of emigrés sent letters and telegrams

expressing their willingness to participate in the diálogo. Others, suspicious, criticized the invitation, arguing that if Castro were sincere in his concern for political

prisoners and family reunification, he had the power to act; he did not need the counsel of gusanos. Editorials in the Spanish­language media warned that the diálogo

was not an attempt to make peace with emigrés but rather a ploy to manipulate the community to Castro’s political advantage: Castro was using a controversial issue

to pit emigré against emigré, ultimately undermining the community’s lobbying power in Washington. The truth of this argument was suggested when an official at the

Cuban Interests Section in Washington warned that without the diálogo there would be no release of political prisoners, and that “any hesitation on the part of emigrés

would be perceived as a lack of concern or interest.”7 The fate of thousands of political prisoners was left up to the emigré community—or so they thought. For the

emigrés, it was a moral dilemma with no easy or satisfactory resolution.

Within weeks, enough emigrés had responded to Castro’s invitation to permit the first diálogo. A committee of exiles was formed, nicknamed the Comité de los 75,

headed by Miami banker Bernardo Benes.8 Most were scholars, journalists, and businessmen from the United States, Puerto Rico, Spain, Venezuela, and México,

leaders in their communities, skillful at communication and shaping public opinion, approved by the Cuban government for this very reason. All of them could

eloquently represent Cuban interests within the exile community and in

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Washington. The Comité arrived in Havana for the first diálogo in November 1978. They returned to Havana a month later for a second series of talks, joined by

sixty­five other emigrés. 9

Nothing in the past twenty years had divided the community as the diálogo did. Lifelong friendships dissolved as Cuban exiles debated the ethical and moral

implications of “collaborating” with the Castro government. Thirty exile organizations publicly denounced the diálogo, including the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association,

which expelled all the members who participated, in spite of the fact that eight Brigadistas were still imprisoned in Cuba and were among those considered for release.

Editorials in the Spanish­language media called the dialogueros traitors, cowards, opportunists, vendepatrias (sellouts), tontos útiles (useful stooges), and

mariposas (butterflies—that is, transformed gusanos).10 They charged that the dialogueros were communists, because several of them had ties to organizations that

were allegedly pro­Castro, such as the Grupo Areíto and the Brigada Antonio Maceo.11

Critics of the diálogo could not believe that anyone in the exile community would want to negotiate with the government responsible for the execution and

imprisonment of so many of their compatriots. As one editorial in an exile tabloid stated: “We cannot forget the executions. … We cannot forget the thousands of

children who were orphaned … the wives, sisters, sons and daughters. … We have a debt of honor with our dead.”12 To remind the community of this debt, various

exile newspapers published photographs of fusilamientos (executions) and family snapshots of the dead.

One of the most vocal critics of the diálogo was Juanita Castro, Fidel’s younger sister and an exile in Miami, who spoke on the radio and made public appearances to

condemn all who participated.13 La Crónica, a Spanish­language tabloid in Puerto Rico with a wide circulation in Miami, published the names, addresses, and

telephone numbers of all the dialogueros so that angry emigrés could personally express their rage.14 One organization urged a “campaign of repudiation and moral

sanction” against them.15 Militant extremists, working on their own or through secret organizations, used terrorist tactics to harass the dialogueros and their

supporters. They bombed Miami’s Continental Bank because its president, Bernardo Benes, traveled to Cuba. Orlando Padrón, owner of Padrón Cigars, became the

target of a boycott after the Miami News published a photograph of him offering Fidel Castro one of his cigars; by 1982 his cigar factory had been vandalized or

firebombed four times.16 Militants in New Jersey harassed and threatened Father

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Andrés Reyes, even during his celebrations of mass, forcing the Catholic Diocese of Newark to transfer him to another parish. 17 In New York, militants bombed the

lobby of El Diario–La Prensa, one of the most popular Spanish­language newspapers in the country, because reporter Manuel de Dios Unanue took part in the

diálogo.18 Two dialogueros, Eulalio José Negrín of New Jersey and Carlos Muñiz Varela of Puerto Rico, were assassinated.

Among the critics of the diálogo were some of the political prisoners themselves. Calling it a “farce,” 138 prisoners clandestinely signed a petition rejecting the

diálogo. The petition was smuggled to Spain and later to the United States, where it was circulated by Of Human Rights, a nonprofit organization at Georgetown

University.19 The 138 prisoners were all plantados, considered the moral elite of political prisoners for their refusal to participate in the government’s rehabilitation

programs or wear the uniforms of common criminals (thereby remaining naked in their cells). Most had spent from thirteen to twenty years in prison, and by signing the

petition they forfeited their chances of being released. The release of political prisoners, they argued, must be unconditional.

Not all political prisoners viewed the diálogo in the same light, however. Interviews conducted by Miami Herald reporters at the Combinado del Este prison revealed

that many of them favored any talks that might help end their tenure at this repressive installation, one of dozens located throughout the island.20 A few prisoners even

wrote letters to the exile community urging them to put their animosities aside and help secure the prisoners’ release.

The rallies, petitions, and violence failed to alter the course of events. The Cuban government considered the first diálogo a success, and on November 21 Cuban

officials announced that they would release 3,000 political prisoners over the next several months, at the rate of 400 per month.21 By August 1979, 2,400 political

prisoners had been released; of the 1,463 who expressed a desire to come to the United States, 813 were approved for entry, along with 1,200 of their

dependents.22 Most of those who chose to emigrate elsewhere settled in Venezuela, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. Among the prisoners released in

1979 was Huber Matos, the former comandante of the Cuban revolutionary army, imprisoned since 1959.23 Also included were four Americans accused of working

for the CIA, who were released after the Carter administration agreed to commute the life terms of Lolita Lebron and three other Puerto Rican nationalists sentenced

for the 1954 seige of the U.S. House of Representatives.24

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Whatever doubts or reservations emigrés might have had regarding the diálogo, they could not argue with the results. It is difficult to say whether Castro would have

reneged on his agreement with the Carter administration without the diálogo, but in any case more political prisoners were released in one year than in the previous

twenty, and many perceived this as the victory of diplomacy and reconciliation over policies of hostility and aggression. In fact, by July 1980, the number of political

prisoners released totaled almost four thousand, surpassing the government’s initial agreement. 25 Opponents of the diálogo, however, continued to view the

negotiations as a moral defeat. They argued that it was international pressure and the high cost of prison maintenance that forced the Cuban government to release the

political prisoners, and they chastised the emigrés for allowing themselves to be manipulated by the Cuban government and for prostituting their values and convictions:

they had bargained with the devil and lost their souls.

Another, equally controversial consequence of the diálogo was the “opening” of Cuba to emigrés. For the first time, Cuban government officials granted emigrés

permission to return to the island to visit their relatives and witness firsthand the accomplishments of the revolution. One of the great ironies of 1979, therefore, was

that as thousands of political prisoners traveled to the United States, thousands of their refugee compatriots returned to the island as tourists. By year’s end, more than

one hundred thousand Cuban exiles in the United States alone had taken advantage of the Cuban government’s relaxed travel policy. They did so with some

trepidation, however. The Cuban government required that all emigrés enter the country with Cuban passports regardless of their present citizenship; the emigrés

feared they would not be allowed to return and sought some legal protection. INS authorities reported that applications for permanent residency rose to twice the

normal monthly rate during this period, mostly due to the growing number of Cuban exiles who wished to travel to Cuba but wanted some assurance that both Cuba

and the United States would permit them to return to their homes in exile.

The exile community became as divided over the “emigré tourism” as over the diálogo. Critics argued that as refugees and exiliados, Cubans could not morally travel

to the country they had fled. Their trips would help finance Castro’s exportation of revolution by providing the Castro government with the currency it so desperately

needed. Wrote one editor of an exile tabloid: “It is sad to see Cubans today, supposedly exiles, giving money to the regime that humiliated them years ago and

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The assigned sources for this paper include an excerpt from the book “Havana USA: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959-1994” by Maria Cristina Garcia. The excerpt focuses on the Mariel Boatlift of 1980, which saw thousands of Cubans emigrating to the United States from the port of Mariel, and the controversies and challenges that ensued.

In the 2.5-page summary, the author explains that the Mariel Boatlift is one of the most interesting case studies in recent immigration history. The author highlights the controversy that the migration engendered and the questions it raised about President Jimmy Carter’s leadership and American immigration policy. The author also notes that unlike earlier refugees, the Marielitos encountered hostility and discrimination wherever they settled. The author points out that both their homeland and their host society rejected them.

In the 0.5-page reflection, the author is expected to discuss whether they can relate to the content discussed and how. The author can discuss if they know someone who can relate to the experiences of the Marielitos, such as a family member, friend, or peer. The author can also reflect on how the events described in the sources impacted their understanding of immigration policy and their views on the treatment of immigrants in the United States.

The paper must be written in MLA or APA format, double-spaced, and with proper use of citations. The author should also ensure proper grammar and syntax throughout the paper.


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