HAVANA – The Cuban population dropped in 2008 for the third consecutive year to almost 700,000 less than in 2007, government officials said.
State news media said on Friday that the decrease came as a result on an increase in the death rate even though births increased in 2008.
According to the Cuban news agency AIN, “it is a natural fact related to the aging of the citizenry, whose average age has increased until now there are approximately 2 million inhabitants over 60 years of age” (almost half of them with more than 70).
In the history of Cuba there have been only two previous occasions when the population diminished: in 1899 after the War of Independence from Spain, and in 1980 due to massive emigration, the state agency said.
In 1980 more than 125,000 Cubans left in the space of a few weeks for the United States from the port of Mariel on the island’s northern coast, or by air afterwards, when the Fidel Castro government lifted its emigration restrictions following incidents at the Peruvian Embassy in Havana that was occupied by people seeking to leave the country.