A Friend Leaves Cuba, Out of Stubbornness and Pain

By Irina Pino

Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – People’s fear of shortages is a lot worse now. So much so that it is driving many to leave their birth country and embark on an adventure to try and find a better life.

This happened to a friend of mine, Marta, who left for Brazil a month ago.

Marta didn’t have a bad life here. She had different jobs, she was in a rock band, worked in cultural institutions, and she also wrote stories and was a fashion designer. She had been unemployed for a while now, but her husband earned a good living. They always had food on the table.

She loved to dance. She would regularly go to Submarino Amarillo, Casa de la Amistad, and all the other places rock bands play. Meeting up with friends at her home to share a paella (made by her own hands) was another thing that made her happy.

She lived near the sea and she enjoyed it. It was just a few meters away from her building.

She was a defender of animals, she looked after stray cats, which she picked up off the street. Also chickens and hens, as well as two dogs. Her world was full of love, she had so many people who loved her.

You could even say she was happy. However, lockdown because of COVID-19 contributed to her falling into depression. She hated the lines she had to wait in to get certain products.

What happened to her mother was the end for her. The woman fell sick in the first months of the pandemic, and she was hospitalized. Her symptoms were diarrhea and breathing difficulties.

She was sent to the Salvador Allende hospital (formerly known as Covadonga). She was suspected of being infected with COVID-19.

This hospital was where infected patients were being sent, so family members couldn’t visit. You were only able to speak on the phone. The doctor would explain the situation like this too. It’s worth mentioning that because of problems with communication, she was almost never able to get in touch with the doctor to find out what was going on.

Marta could not see her mother anymore, and she died alone in the ICU.

They prepared everything to receive the body at the funeral home, but the body never came. After some hours, they found out that the body was sent to the crematorium in Santiago de las Vegas, along with other bodies.

The hospital would send her mother’s ashes the following day.

She didn’t want to hear anything about it. Her sister received the ashes. Marta was sad, but she was overcome with rage and impotence. She told me that those ashes could be anyone.

She never got her mother’s belongings back, the ones she had when she was admitted into the health facility. The old lady’s backpack was stolen.

Marta wanted to denounce all of this to the Attorney-General’s Office, but it fell on deaf ears.

Months passed by, and her daughter made all the arrangements needed to invite her to Brazil. She took us all by surprise with news of her departure. Before leaving, she gave away lots of her things to friends, maybe with the idea of never coming back.

Her latest idea is to sell the house, and to distribute the money amongst her children.

When we talk on Facebook, I always advise her not to sell her apartment, that she think it over properly.

As soon as she arrived in Brazil, she began working at a pizza store illegally. She left it in less than a week. It was very demanding work, and she couldn’t bear it.

Now, arrangements are being made for her to work in a house looking after an elderly woman. I think this is another job that she won’t be able to endure for very long. She is almost 60 years old and has a few health problems of her own.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to my friend. Her life has taken a 90-degree turn. Now she  lives in one of the countries with the highest rates of infection and deaths for COVID-19.

Read more here from Irina Pino’s diary.


Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

2 thoughts on “A Friend Leaves Cuba, Out of Stubbornness and Pain

  • Where have all the Castro sycophants gone? I would be interested in how they would defend this institutional cruelty. How did the US embargo cause the Castro dictatorship to disrespectfully cremate the woman’s body? How would they blame imperialism for COVID scourge? There are never any Castro bootlickers around when you need them….

  • Irina- a very sad but expected story about human misery in Cuba. I will pass it along to my Cuban friends here in Southwest Florida and Oregon, USA.
    I pray for you and all Island Cubans for some kind of a positive break in 2021.

    Richard Kellner

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