It is hard to imagine the United States deciding that it would no longer grant 20,000 immigrant visas per year (which I would not advocate) or deciding to return “dry foot” Cubans who reach U.S. soil illegally and with no claim to refugee or asylee status (which would be a bitter pill, but one I would advocate with reluctance).
But the article quoted below puts its finger on what I have long found, when talking to people in Cuba, to be the number one political fact on the island – that the widespread desire to emigrate and the possibility, however small, of doing so successfully, blocks the vast majority of Cubans from ever thinking of political opposition. (For many, to be sure, there are other reasons too.) And I would add that the immigration policies mentioned above make it hard to argue that the so-called hard-line
“The masses are not going to confront the dictatorship of the Castros as long as el exilio guarantees them a privileged means of emigrating. A political struggle against a dictatorship involves sacrifice, pain, and blood. Few seek it out deliberately. For that, they are heroes. What the immense majority wants is to leave the country. But political opposition is an obstacle to achieving this objective. And not only that. The hope of emigrating makes any mistreatment, any humiliation, any misery tolerable. And that sentiment spreads throughout the island, acting truly like a national anesthesia. In reality, the elimination of this strange privilege would be much more dangerous for the dictatorship than maintaining the embargo.”