Engineered Migration as a Coercive Instrument: The 1994 Cuban Balseros Crisis
Author(s)Greenhill, Kelly M.
This paper presents a case study of the August 1994 Cuban “balseros”—i.e. rafters—crisis, commonly known as Mariel II, during which over 35,000 Cubans fled the island and headed towards Florida. This paper argues that Castro launched the crisis in an attempt to manipulate the US’s fears of another Mariel boatlift, in order to compel a shift in United States (US) policy, both on immigration and on a wider variety of issues. As the end of the crisis brought with it a radical redefinition of US immigration policy toward Cuba, the paper further contends that from Castro’s perspective, this exercise in coercion proved a qualified success—his third such successful use of the Cuban people as an asymmetric political weapon against the US.
Inter-University Committee on International Migration
Rosemarie Rogers Working Paper Series;12