Fabiola Santiago

We fled the Castros’ communism. Now they’re recruiting our children. Outrageous!

Cuban leader Raúl Castro speaks during a rally in Havana, Nov. 29, 2016. If your family is from Cuba and you want to become a citizen, there’s a way to do that. But it will cost you your freedom.
Cuban leader Raúl Castro speaks during a rally in Havana, Nov. 29, 2016. If your family is from Cuba and you want to become a citizen, there’s a way to do that. But it will cost you your freedom. AP

After 59 years of conning the world with social justice talking points and outlasting every U.S. administration, the Cuban dictatorship has refined the art of responding to Washington-made strategy.

But the Cuban pushback to President Donald Trump’s isolation policy takes the prize in creativity.

Cuba is now scouting for party-loyal citizens among Cuban-Americans.

Submit — and Cuban citizenship is yours! Ha.

In a recruitment effort to beef up their out-of-fashion Communist Party, Cuba is offering citizenship to the U.S.-born children of Cuban-Americans. It may sound unbelievable, but the Cuban government is eagerly pushing the proposal as an “opening” at a time when the United States “closes” all over its social media and publications.

There is, however, more than one eye-raising catch to this purported new benefit: These Cuban-Americans have to accept taking an oath of alliance to Cuba’s one-party rule. They have to be born to parents who weren’t freedom fighters, dissidents, or in any way shape or form status shakers. And they have to take an exam reminiscent of the American citizenship test to prove that they’re knowledgeable of Cuba’s form of government and history (as told by those in power, of course). For this purpose, reading state-run Granma is recommended.

I am getting a big laugh out of the absurdity.

Cuba is, in fact, regressing in 2018 — the year when we were supposed to witness a peaceful end of the Castro brothers’ six-decade rule. But el comandante Raúl Castro isn’t leaving his leadership post, not in February, as promised, and possibly not until the end of his days, even if he hands over the presidency in name next April.

So there’s that development, classically blamed on Hurricane Irma and Trump when people who lost everything during Hurricane Matthew are still suffering and Castro declined President Barack Obama’s humanitarian aid offer back then.

The message: Cuba will remain a dictatorship, a private Castro fiefdom and Communist Disneyland — and the world will suck it up because Cubans are fun-loving, warm, and hospitable to visitors, especially to Cuban-Americans who fled and return with nostalgia, love in their hearts, and money in their pockets.

The citizenship lure: The ability to buy and inherit property only available to Cuban citizens.

But why would any sane American want citizenship in a country that doesn’t respect basic human rights — and constantly gets away with violations? Case in point: On the heels of condemning Iran for violently cracking down on street protesters this week, one of the highest-ranking European Union leaders, Federica Mogherini, visited Cuba, where demonstrations are strictly forbidden.

“Peaceful demonstration and freedom of expression are fundamental rights that apply to every country, and Iran is no exception,” read the European Union statement she tweeted.

Yet her public words in Cuba were limited to alluding to Trump when she said that “some people intend to isolate Cuba,” but the European Union prefers to build bridges and open doors by way of cooperation and dialogue. It’s a fine concept in spirit and speeches, but ineffective when not a word is spoken about those “fundamental rights that apply to every country” not being available to the Cuban people. At least Iranians are protesting; Cuba doesn’t even tolerate the silent walk of gladioli-carrying Ladies in White to church on Sundays.

Just days before Mogherini’s arrival, Cuban security forces violently arrested dissidents and artists for daring to express their point of view — crackdowns that were routine before and during the two years of President Obama’s rapprochement policy — and continue with Trump’s highly ignorant Cuba policy.

And so, as another administration withdraws from the only strategy that ever had a shot at influence in Cuban affairs, the dystopian Cuban state finds a way to make a mockery of everyone with calculated countermoves.

Attracting young people to Cuban citizenship may seem a hard sell. But think again. This is a country where a creepy Che Guevara Hasta La Victoria Siempre (Toward Victory Forever) T-shirt, an ode to a murderer, goes for $4.99 at your all-American Walmart.

Ernesto Pichardo, president of the Lukumí Babalú Ayé church, offers a synopsis of forecasts according to the annual "Letter" unveiled by Cuban babalawos on the island and in Miami.

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