Despite a sharp drop in tourist numbers during the pandemic, Canadian visitors have returned to Cuba in large numbers this winter, accounting for around 52% of all foreign arrivals in January.
However, for Cubans themselves, the situation is vastly different. Over 220,000 Cubans, equivalent to 2% of the island’s entire population, were detained after crossing the US-Mexico border last year.
Others have settled in other countries in the Americas or traveled as far as Russia and Serbia, which allow Cubans to enter visa-free.
Within the Cuban diaspora, there is a sense that the country is being emptied out, with almost anyone who has the means to leave either actively planning an escape or at least considering it.
Airlines have taken advantage of this exodus by charging exorbitant fares to destinations where Cubans are allowed to land.
Some have speculated that the Cuban Communist Party and the Ortega-Murillo regime in Nicaragua are allowing and even encouraging this migration to generate income while also removing dissidents.
An industry has grown around the exodus, benefiting both the governments and the airlines profiting from it.