Sunday, October 28, 2007

Venezuelans of Cuban descent use heritage to enter U.S.

Venezuelans of Cuban descent use heritage to enter U.S.
The sons and daughters of Cubans living in Venezuela are fleeing the
country, fearing a repeat of Fidel Castro's 1950s revolution.
Posted on Sun, Oct. 28, 2007
El Nuevo Herald

Haunted by their exiled parents' harrowing experience in the 1950s
revolutionary Cuba, thousands of Venezuelans of Cuban descent are
fleeing the country as President Hugo Chávez intensifies his drive to
transform Venezuela into a socialist state.

The two Cuban consulates in Venezuela -- in Caracas and Valencia -- have
seen a sharp rise in recent months in the number of petitions from young
applicants looking for ways to prove their Cuban origin.

The sons and daughters of Cuban nationals have a unique advantage over
the rest of Venezuelans: A direct shot at becoming U.S. residents if
they can prove their parents were born on the island.

''We are witnessing in Venezuela the same situation that our parents
experienced [in Cuba,] and that is why we are looking for new
horizons,'' said Víctor López, a 35-year-old son of Cubans who went to
the Cuban embassy in Caracas last week to request a birth certificate.

Víctor plans to move to Miami next year, along with his wife and their
4-year-old daughter, hoping to benefit from the Cuban Adjustment Act, a
law that allows any person who can prove he was born in Cuba or to Cuban
parents to become a legal resident in the U.S.

''The birth certificate proving that the person is the son or the
daughter of a Cuban citizen allows him to be considered under the Cuban
Adjustment Act,'' said Salvador Romaní, president of the advocacy group
Junta Patriótica Cubana in Venezuela, who moved to Miami last year after
47 years in Venezuela.

The number of Cuban-Venezuelans who have applied for residency under the
Cuban Adjustment Act has grown since August, after the U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Services agency ruled that a birth certificate issued by
a Cuban consulate could be used as proof of Cuban origin.

The decision ''has opened the doors not only to the sons and daughters
of Cubans in Venezuela, but also to those living anywhere else in the
world,'' said Avelino González, a former law professor at the University
of Havana and an immigration lawyer in Miami who has also lived in

María Victoria López, a 27-year-old Venezuelan lawyer who came to Miami
in 2005 to pursue graduate studies, is also hoping to benefit from the

''One of the main reasons not to return to Venezuela is that Chávez is
building a Cuba-inspired autocracy, something that has always concerned
us as a family because of what [my parents] lived through in Cuba,''
said López Ferrer.

She presented her Cuban birth certificate in January, after having lived
legally in the United States for twelve months and one day, as the Cuban
Adjustment Act requires. She is currently awaiting her green card.

González estimates that 30,000 Cubans currently live in Venezuela --
including some former Bay of Pigs fighters.

''Every day we hear of more cases of people of Cuban descent who want to
come to Miami, and we are trying to help them in any way we can,'' said
Julio César Alfonso, president of Solidarity Without Borders, an
organization that helps defecting Cuban doctors in Venezuela reach Miami.

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