Sunday, October 28, 2012

Opening emigrant doors

This quote from Nikita Khrushchev made me think immediately of the long-awaited but timid reform to Cuba's travel policies:

Paradise is a place where people want to end up, not a place they run from! Yet in this country the doors are closed and locked. What kind of socialism is that? What kind of shit is that when you have to keep people in chains? What kind of social order? What kind of paradise? Some curse me for the times I opened the doors. If God had given me the chance to continue, I would have thrown the doors and windows wide open.

Lenin opened the doors during the civil war and many did leave. Shalyapin, the singer, left; so did Averchenko, Andreyev, and other great writers. More would have left, but do you really think the whole country would have left? Impossible. Why should we be afraid of that? Many people leave their countries and never come back. It's nothing to be afraid of.*

This was when Khrushchev was in internal exile and dictating his memoirs, and of course trying to make himself look good both in comparison to Stalin and to Brezhnev. But despite the source, the point is a good one. Why fear opening up the doors?

*From Khrushchev Remembers: The Glasnost Tapes (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1990): 203.


Anonymous,  7:27 AM  

Why Cuba does not permit people to emigrate? The most obvious sign that the Revolution failed is that the people with the most initiative, talent and possibility would exercise this right in large numbers. Nevertheless, everyday people with no special talent, except the desire to improve their lives, would make up the bulk of these emigrants. The Cuban state can claim this is a brain drain, it is, and national security issue, not so, but they have had 60 years to make the Revolution a worthwhile paradise. In contrast the periods of 1899-1940 and 1945-1959 were periods of high levels of immigration.

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