More than 140,000 Cubans have fled the island from October to May, a tenfold increase from the fiscal year 2020, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The recent wave is greater than the Mariel exodus of 1980, when 125,000 Cubans fled the island.
“The scale of the numbers is really historic,” Michael Bustamante, the Emilio Bacardí Moreau Chair in Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami and an associate professor of history, told ABC News.
He said the main factor behind the flight is economics, as Cuba is facing its worse crisis in 30 years. The pandemic and the lack of tourism, which is a source of income for many businesses, have taken their toll, according to Bustamente.
“Things are tough. Inflation is high…There are shortages of all kinds,” he said.