Help to buy food.

Erasmo Calzadilla

HAVANA TIMES — I’ve just got back from the supermarket. I bought a whole load of delicious and healthy food which is difficult to get a hold of in Cuba: Whole wheat bread and brown rice, fresh apples which keep you away from the doctor, orange juice… Clean and fresh vegetables, kind salespeople, eco-friendly bags for a small price… It’s wonderful! And I’ve got all of this for free, without having to pay a single cent.

I want to thank, from the bottom of my heart, US taxpayers who indirectly pay for the aid I’m receiving. I want to extend my thanks to all the workers in the world who in some way contribute to this great nation and its strong currency, in a more indirect way. The most diverse ways: brain drain, petrodollars supported by the force of weapon sales, outsourcing the environmental cost of its ecological footprint and many other mechanisms which we regular Mesa Redonda (Cuban TV roundtable) viewers are familiar with. I would like to further extend my thanks to “Pacha Mama” (Mother Nature) who must be fed up with us.

The Bridge Hotel

But, this is just a store and not what I wanted to talk about in this article, so here goes.

At the Bridge Hotel (the Cuban camp set up on the Rio Bravo river), everybody was confused about the Cuban Adjustment Act; fellow Cubans thought that they should seek refuge under this law at immigration, or something like that. A public debate kicked off in the morning which blocked the constant flow of Mexicans, who were returning with South Korean goods they bought on the US side of the border. Mexicans are a very sweet and easy-going people… I didn’t see any of them get annoyed. On the contrary, they asked for permission to pass and waited kindly for the Cubans to let them by.

There was a fun and well-informed Venezuelan among us – married to a Cuban woman and with three children – who explained the situation to us very well: You can’t take refuge using the Cuban Adjustment Act, you can only do that after being in the US for a year. Now you need to enter as political refugees and show Immigration officials that you are afraid of the Cuban government, that you’re being persecuted or something like that.

Patrol Boat on the Rio Bravo.

That brought everybody down, even me. A young woman from Cojimar, who was sitting next to me, remained lost in thought for a little with her eyes fixed on the Rio Bravo. Suddenly, she burst out: I know what I’m going to say! We waited for her to share her idea, to see if it could give us any clues, but she turned her head and kept her mouth shut. She didn’t want anybody to steal her idea.

Then, I got lost in my own thoughts, like only I know how to, and told myself: “You have nothing to worry about. If there’s anyone here who has chipped a little paint off the Castro dictatorship it’s you, and it’s perfectly demonstrable.  So don’t stress.”

But, that night when I laid my head down on the pillow in my suite at the Bridge Hotel, overlooking the Rio Bravo, anxiety suddenly beat whatever was left of my sponge-like brain: Am I a political refugee? Is it honest for me to ask for political asylum?
Note:  I support and raise my voice with others so that a humanitarian visa is given to those Cubans who are now camping at US border crossings. They were tempted to leave their country by a law which was suddenly revoked without any prior warning.

Mexicans in line to cross over the border.

Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.

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