Hunger drives Cuban migration to US higher in 2022
Economic conditions are the main drivers for Cubans, who risk leaving the island for the United States, with the hope of a better life on the mainland.

CUBA remains one of the top migrant-sending nations to the United States, with an uptick reported after Hurricane Ian in September. But, months before this, an increased flow from the Caribbean island was already being reported.

The New York Times predicted the highest numbers seen in four decades to occur this year, with 150,000 expected in 2022 as the economic and political situation on the island grows more critical.

Since 1959, Cubans have been running from food insecurity and economic pressures, risking life and limb to reach the United States. outlines how, in 1959, the Cuban Revolution triggered the largest refugee flow, with approximately 1.4 million people fleeing after the toppling of dictator Fulgencio Batista by Fidel Castro's fighters.

The news source notes that the Cuban exodus has been oriented primarily toward the mainland United States but, in addition, at least 300,000 Cubans have relocated to Spain, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico, and other Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as Canada and European nations such as Germany, Italy, and France.

In total, approximately two million US residents are natives of Cuba or claim Cuban ancestry.

On September 15, 2022 Kimberly Gabriela Martinez of quoted US immigration officials as noting a sharp increase in Cuban migration to the United States. Martinez states that many are now arriving on foot, their flight aided by Nicaragua, which dropped visa requirements late 2021 for Cubans.

It is noted that some Cuban migrants leave the island on expensive charter flights to Nicaragua. Cuban migrants travel through Central America and Mexico to the US border. Many others with less resources find their way to the same border. says that, since October 2021 "more than 177,000 Cubans have arrived in the United States, six times more than in the same period of the previous year, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)."

The surge in numbers is attributed to Cuba's severe economic crisis. Cuba's economy has been constrained by US sanctions and the aftermath of the novel coronavirus pandemic, it was stated.


Migrants interviewed quote economic hardship as the main problem with an increase in hunger being experienced by many. notes that Cuba has consistently scored "low" (less than five) on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) since 2005. A GHI score of <5 indicates that less than 10 per cent of the population suffers from hunger, calculated by national rates of undernourishment, child wasting and stunting and child mortality.

The site notes, "Many social programmes in Cuba rely heavily on food importation and foreign aid from Venezuela and the US. Up to 80 per cent of Cuba's food is imported. The majority of food importation, about 67 per cent, goes toward government social programmes. This leads to long distribution lines for basic food products like rice, vegetables, eggs and meat. These lines for individual food products can last up to five hours as people wait to purchase groceries with government-issued ration books."

Such conditions are why many take their lives into their hands, walking miles to arrive at the southern border or floating in rickety boats across the waters to the eastern coast.

Once upon a time, a warm embrace was ensured in the form of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, under which Cuban migrants were granted special status. However,in 1995, US President Bill Clinton enacted the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, which only allowed Cuban immigrants who reached US land to stay in the United States.

If they are intercepted at sea, they will be returned to Cuba or sent to another location.

Further change was enacted by US President Barack Obama in 2017 since which time Cuban citizens are required to seek legal entrance into the United States before becoming eligible for permanent residency.

Most Cuban migrants still arrive at the Mexican border, and nearly 4,000 have been intercepted at sea since October 2021 through August 16, 2022, says notes that Florida continues to be a preferred destination for Cuban migrants due to its close proximity to the island, family ties and its significant Hispanic community.

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