Rising poverty and shortages of medicine and food are forcing an increasing number of Cubans to flee the island, aiming for the United States in search of better living conditions.
Nearly 2% of the country’s residents (roughly 4% of the working-age population) have attempted to immigrate to the neighboring country in the past year, according to the US government.
As of September 30, some 220,000 Cubans were arrested trying to scale the Mexican border wall into US territory. In October alone, the US Coast Guard intercepted up to 1,100 boaters, a volume greater than that registered throug all of 2021.
While poverty and lack of vital resources are the main reasons for the crisis, Cuba’s communist government blames US sanctions.
Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, Cuba’s Deputy Foreign Minister, recently said US sanctions had cost billions in economic losses and urged the neighboring country to end sanctions at the earliest.
In recent months, Cuba’s electricity grid has also failed, forcing the government to impose mandatory power outages every day.
Cuba’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture and tourism, both of which have struggled since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government’s reluctance to open up the economy has created a generation of unemployed.