The Legal Production of the Transgressive Family: Binational Family Relationships between Cuba and the United States
Deborah M. Weissman
University of North Carolina School of Law
North Carolina Law Review, Forthcoming
UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1499915
The Cuban revolution of 1959 both challenged U.S. interests and precipitated one of the largest migration to the United States. By the end of the twentieth century, more than one million Cubans, one-tenth of the total population, had emigrated, mostly to the United States. Family relations developed within two phases of specific global contexts, reflecting Cuba's changing international position and the U.S. response. The first occurred after 1960, when Cuba aligned itself with the Soviet bloc in the final decades of the Cold War. The second was after 1990, when Cuba adapted to the global economy in the post-Cold War environment (Special Period). In both instances, Cuban families have found themselves adversely affected by U.S. policies that have politicized migration.
Cuban emigration has transformed the character of Cuban families. Vast numbers of Cubans are direct casualties of U.S. policies designed to create economic havoc as a means to overthrow the Cuban government. Divided families found themselves continually separated not only by the Florida straits but U.S. laws and policies which, for over the past fifty years, have manipulated migration procedures, travel authorization, and remittances regulations, the very means by which families maintain connections.
This article reviews the relationship between U.S. policy after 1959 and the legal mechanisms that influenced the character of the binational Cuban/Cuban-American family. Over the course of the last fifty years, the United States has used the rule of law to deny families fundamental customs of care-taking and comfort. Of course, the regulation of migration and attendant matters of travel and remittances are customarily linked to national policy and international concerns. However, in the case of U.S. laws governing the relationship of Cuban binational families, notwithstanding some recent changes announced by the Obama Administration,there is no normativity of impartiality that can be discerned.
These efforts have failed to achieve their goals. On both sides of the Florida straits, individuals improvised-often extra-legal-mechanisms of mutual familial support. In doing so, they act as transgressors of laws and policies as a means to maintain family support systems.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: Cuba, migration, embargo, travel, remittances
JEL Classification: F02, K40, K49, N26, N40Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: November 5, 2009 ; Last revised: November 23, 2009
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