To emigrate or not to emigrate (2)

By Erasmo Calzadilla

I’ve been a bit beside myself the last few days, following the receipt of a formal letter of invitation from a friend in Chile. This document would allow me to move there, where he and almost all our old crew from our university days have settled.

Since I don’t want to take this decision lightly, I’m making a mental list of reasons why I should and shouldn’t emigrate. I’m going to outline the things that have been happened to me over the last few days, and on this occasion I’ll concentrate on why I should not emigrate.

Cuba is a magnificent country from many points of view; it is truly a paradise if you consider that the air is clean, the people sociable, its climate is mild, healthcare is free, social assistance is not the worst, and there’s no shortage of beautiful women or good friends.

Cuba is a relatively peaceful place, at least compared to other countries in the region. There have yet to appear substantial numbers of gangs, drug traffickers or street weapons; there are no guerrilla armies or paramilitary forces, and you generally breathe the air of tranquility in the streets. The cost of all this is perhaps constant police abuse, but it’s pretty low-intensity stuff.

Here, the world economic crisis hasn’t hit us too strongly because the government has excellent mechanisms to protect the citizens from extreme misery, though many still live on its edge. Life expectancy is over 75 for both men and women; and all children go to school where, for better or worse, they’re fed and can grow up healthy-at least physically, since the ideological bombardment is indeed crippling.

You don’t see indications of a grave social crisis here: there are no throngs of kids begging in the streets, no junkies going through withdrawal; and there are elderly canteens, a little sordid for sure, but where they can at least have lunch.

Yet more than anything, you can sleep tranquilly knowing that you’ll never find an avenue, airport or factory paralyzed by striking workers, since their marches here are well organized from above.

If you have no problem with obeying when you’re ordered, Cuba is a place for you; and if you live off some little private business, or from some other hustle, you can even end up being your own boss.

In short, if you’ve the good fortune to have your own roof over your head, if you aspire to a calm life and can pick up some loose change by any alternative means; if you are not ambitious and it doesn’t bother you to grow old watching soap operas, baseball, or even reading good old books, if you meet these requirements, then emigrating from here would be tremendous insanity.

Me, for my part, I can’t deny that I like the calm that’s breathed here, but only up to a point; after that, I find myself so suffocated that if I had a rocket to carry me anywhere I would have used it a long time ago.

4 thoughts on “<em>To emigrate or not to emigrate (2) </em>

  • I visited Havana a few years back and found it very a beautiful place, I proposed to my wife on the Malecon, and I thought Vedado was like New York in the 1950s.
    Do you have to emigrate to Chile? Can’t you just go there for a few years and then come back if you want, or isn’t that allowed?
    As for there being a lot of soaps and state propaganda in Cuba, it’s like that everywhere you go I’m afraid, anyone who thinks ‘democracy’ is much different must have the mind of a flea. For instance, here in London there’s a news block-out on the influence of Russian mafia even when they use nuclear terrorism on our streets, and of course the war in Afghanistan is completely invisible. I read about the Credit Crunch in Granma three months before it happened. You do need better soaps though,

  • “you can sleep tranquilly knowing that you’ll never find an avenue, airport or factory paralyzed by striking workers”, that’s because “their marches here are well organized from above” and “above” won’t let anybody convey in public how they really feel.
    Erasmo, you are a good men and I like the way you write. But I sense on your thoughts the innocence of somebody who hasn’t experience democracy and freedom out of Cuba. Same thing I saw many times on my recent trip to Havana. People in Havana just don’t know what they are missing, and therefore they just don’t.

  • The decision to emigrate is obviously a highly personal one, but if you are able to do so, you couldn’t pick a better Spanish speaking country to move to. Since the dark days of Pinochet, Chile has made enormous strides in terms of political democracy, personal freedoms, economic prosperity and social progress.

    I had an opportunity to visit Chile a couple of years ago, and came away very impressed. Santiago reminded me quite a bit of Madrid, Spain. Santiago has a very modern subway system, and impressive universities, hospitals, international airport, and other public facilities. Valparaiso reminded me a lot of San Francisco with its hilly geography and beautiful architecture.

  • Era, how ended the trip to Pinar?

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