The airlift of hundreds of thousands of Cuban migrants to the United States increased the size and political strength of the Cuban American community while furthering the Cold War foreign policy goals of the United States.
Relations between Cuba and the United States soured after the 1959 Cuban revolution created a
By the mid-1960’s, Cuba’s economic isolation had created hard times that led to rising public discontent. In the autumn of 1965,
Policy makers in the United States hoped that the mass exodus would accomplish three
•drain talent and expertise from Cuba, disrupting social conditions and weakening Castro’s regime
•symbolize the dysfunction of communism, as hundreds of thousands of Cubans demonstrated their preference for the political and economic conditions in the United States
•emphasize alternatives to Cuban communism, thereby potentially promoting active resistance to Castro within Cuba
In practice, the effects of the airlift were somewhat more complex. Many members of Cuba’s professional classes did leave their homeland. However, over time, the majority of emigrants tended to come from poorer and less well-educated backgrounds. The
By the early 1970’s, attitudes toward the airlift had shifted. Some members of the U.S. Congress opposed footing the bill for such an expensive operation, a position that hardened as the new immigrants were increasingly seen as requiring extensive social and economic support after they arrived in the United States. At the same time, a thaw in U.S. relations with the Soviet Union contributed to a softening of some hard-line attitudes toward Cuba. Meanwhile, within Cuba itself, nearly all original registrants for the boatlift and airlift were gone, and outgoing flights continued only intermittently until the airlift officially ended on April 6, 1973. The next major migration from Cuba to the United States would not occur until the
Arboleya, Jesus. Havana-Miami: The U.S.-Cuba Migration Conflict. Melbourne, Vic.: Ocean Press, 1996. Colomer, Josep M. “Exit, Voice, and Hostility in Cuba.” International Migration Review 34, no. 2 (Summer, 2000): 423-442. García, María Cristina. Havana USA: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959-1994. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. Pedraza, Silvia. Political Disaffection in Cuba’s Revolution and Exodus. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Transportation of immigrants
Welfare and social services