June 20, 2006


Very quietly, they reject Fidel Castro: Children of the Cuban regime's ruling class who have emigrated to Spain find they must keep a lid on any dissenting views so they can continue to visit relatives on the island. (GUY HEDGECOE, 6/17/06, The Miami Herald)

They are the sons and daughters of Cuba's ruling class, living in Spain but keeping a low profile so that Fidel Castro's government will let them return home for visits.

They are known as quedaditos, which means ''those who stayed'' but implies the under-the-radar lives they lead to avoid the whiff of dissidence that might stick to their decision to live outside the communist system. [...]

Some are critical of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Others just want to get away from the island's intense politics. Others want to do business, without Cuba's draconian controls. But for all, unlike Miami, living in Spain does not immediately point to dissidence and the end of their possibility of frequently visiting the island. [...]

Cubans have been flocking to Spain for decades in order to start new lives. Some arrived as exiles from Castro's system, some married Spaniards, and some obtained Spanish passports based on their parents' Spanish citizenship. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its massive subsidies to Cuba, this new kind of migrant began to arrive, a privileged group often connected to the very highest circles of the Castro government.

Among persons they do not know or trust, they may defend Castro's government or remain quiet, according to fellow Cubans in Spain. But among friends, they reveal varying levels of discontent.

''I don't think anyone over here is in favor of the regime,'' said the Cuban lawyer, who asked for anonymity to avoid being identified and perhaps punished by the Cuban authorities. But, she added, ``a lot of us don't get caught up in political issues because of our families.'' [...]

[M]any of the quedaditos could hardly be classed as economic migrants. Many are professionals, the offspring of pro-Castro parents for whom the revolution has provided relatively comfortable lives.

That's because all Cubans living abroad who want to visit their homeland must first obtain a Cuban government Permit for Residence Abroad, a hard-to-get license that allows the possibility of returning often on vacation.

''You request the permit, and they either give it to you or they don't,'' said Julián Mateos, a Spanish lawyer who represents Cubans in Spain and Spanish firms in Cuba.

According to Mateos, up to 200,000 Cubans live in Spain, about 60,000 of whom have obtained Spanish nationality. The Spanish government and the Cuban Embassy in Madrid would not give figures or comment for this report.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 20, 2006 7:32 AM
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