In October of 2007, the Spanish government passed a law called the Law of Historical Memory, designed to address the suffering of those who were victims of the Spanish Civil War, the Franco dictatorship, as well as to eliminate the last sanctioned Francoist relics from Spanish political and cultural life.
It has had an interesting side effect:
The first recipient, 38-year-old cardiologist Norberto Luis Diaz, said he already had his bags packed for a flight on Sunday to Spain, retracing in reverse the journey his grandfather made when he emigrated to Cuba in 1916.
"It's the most important day of my life. I am happy," he said upon receiving his purple-colored passport in the office of Spain's consul general.
The Law of Historical Memory makes grandchildren of Spanish immigrants eligible for citizenship, and Spain has estimated 1 million people around the world, including 200,000 Cubans, could apply.
Cuba was a haven for those who fled Franco's Spain. Now the reverse may very well be true. The numbers have been significant enough to lead some to call the Spanish Embassy in Havana "The Spanish Factory." What has been interesting has been the relative silence on the side of the Cuban government. Are they anticipating remittances going back to Cuba from Spain? I can't imagine that as right now Spain's unemployment is at a twelve year high and the new Spanish citizens may have a difficult time finding employment in Spain. Is it being done to facilitate travel out of Cuba possibly to the US as Spain is one of the participants in the Visa Waiver Program?
I'm guessing that Cuba wants to maintain amicable relations with Spain as Spain has taken a somewhat softer line with Cuba recently than some other EU members and as Spain has extensive tourism and other investments in Cuba.
In any event, I certainly hope that they don't go to my old hometown, Miami. It would be disappointing to say the least to see the descendants of those who fled one dictatorship, leaving another one for a community that finds the banning of disagreeable books to be acceptable.