Between 1959 and 2010, some 1,539,650 persons emigrated from Cuba, representing approximately 8% of the Cuban population. Some 80% of the emigrants settled in the United States.
Although there was a degree of class heterogeneity in the Cuban emigration of 1959 to 1979, there was a significant overrepresentation of the national bourgeoisie and the privileged sectors in the emigration of that period. As a result, the political orientation of the emigrants coincided with the particular interests of the Cuban national bourgeoisie, which had fled the island in the early 1960s rather than participate in the construction of the new society. In the late 1970s, changes in U.S. policy were introduced by the Carter Administration, and a movement in the Cuban-American community for peaceful coexistence with Cuba became visible. These dynamics were threats to the prevailing consensus of the Cuban-American community, but that consensus continued to support the goal of the overthrow of the Cuban Revolution, a position that took priority over such issues as family reunification and the maintenance of contacts with Cuban society.