Cuba and Venezuela were recipients of immigrants before [the year 1959 Cuba and 2000 Venezuela]. Cuba experienced a small emigration after World War II. From 1945 to 1955, 35,000 people “left,” but in that same period 211,000 immigrants “arrived.” Fernando Bernal, a diplomat of the revolution, and later an exile, told me that only in the Havana consulate in Rome there were 11,000 requests to emigrate to the Island. As for Venezuela, what has happened in that country is mind-boggling – from having a growing number of immigrants (Portuguese, Italians and Central Europeans), today they have six million exiles.
Why are they leaving? Essentially, because they have no way of earning a living and lack social mobility. The idea that you can’t improve your quality of life, no matter what you do, is a spur to leave. The type of political regime in the abstract only matters to a minimum of people. If the US wants to restore social mobility in Cuba and Venezuela, it has to overthrow the regime that hinders it. Otherwise, it’s laugh now, cry later.