Broken Cuban Families

Irina Pino

Con mi familia en La Habana ViejaHAVANA TIMES — When a friend talks to me about broken families, I see the portrait of my own family: those who have stayed here in Cuba, those who have left, and those who are getting ready to say goodbye.

My niece Catherine’s children, aged less than 10 years old, will adapt much more quickly to learning a foreign language, they’ll start a new school and they’ll make friends. Likewise, when they grow up, they’ll pick up other customs and another lifestyle. Their parents will have to work hard in whatever jobs they can find, as their grandfather’s help won’t be enough.

My sister went to Las Vegas not too long ago, under the family reunification program.  Now its her kids that will have to take care of her because she is sick and can’t work. I think she feels sad, it’s been a big change, her crutch is on the other side, but she’ll have to wait until she gets residency until she can start the paperwork to bring him over.

Only my mother, my son and I remain here in Cuba. Six months ago, my father passed away; lucky for him, he won’t have to see the last split in our family, the breaking away, or however you want to call it. Something that hurts, and will continue to hurt, as the moment draws closer.

I have my uncle Carlos over there, a mysterious man, somebody I’ve never met in person, and who has never even written a letter; my grandmother Teresa, who rests in a desolate cemetery; my cousins, real US citizens; my two nephews, who were born in my house and who I helped to raise; my aunt Aurora, a woman second to none, who never managed to get US citizenship, but who has never stopped helping us with whatever she had in her pocket. She’s an old lady now and she lives in a rest home.

Aurora was one of the first of the family to come back and see us, back when James Carter gave the Cuban community in the US the opportunity to travel so they could see their families again, after so many years of being apart. I think that the memories and joy of reunions always weigh much heavier than whatever comes in their suitcase.

Everybody is free to choose their own path. Lives change, people adapt, but we’re all children of the same soil. Cuban families have been broken, they’re scattered across the entire world, but when they come together they love each other, and they love their country, even though they’ve left it behind.

6 thoughts on “Broken Cuban Families

  • OK Viva Cuba, I agree that throughout societies people can be divided between givers and takers. That division is not political as both can belong to any part of the political spectrum. Giving does not necessitate money – I recall the mother of three children living in a conical mud hut in Namibia and dependent upon UN food aid, but she was giving to her neighbour who was nursing a three week old baby by preparing the food and cleaning her hut.
    But the presence of permanent Western Union facilities within GAESA subsidiary shops is indicative of the volume of money being sent by overseas relatives and friends to their families in Cuba. I see the recipients and know some donors. Three and a half billion dollars is a lot of donation and a significant contribution to the Cuban economy.

  • That may be so, however, I was speaking of those I have observed personally. The individuals I have seen, have not displayed any such generosity.

  • Three and a half billion dollars per year is sent by Cubans living in the capitalist world to their relatives in socialist Cuba.
    If one watches Cuban exiles arriving in Cuba to visit their relatives, the volume of household goods is very high.

  • I have seen the families spilt up because one member of the family was able to make it to U.S. However breaking up the family is by personal choice (or at least from the cases I have observed personally.) I’ve seen a family member make it here, but as soon as they are out, they completely forget about the rest of the family still back on the Island, in terms of sending remittances, or goods. It seems that as soon as they are out of country, they only care about what material goods they can amass for themselves.
    The cases I have observed, I knew the immigrating party both on the Island and here in the U.S. and helping the rest of the family improve their living conditions or to perhaps migrate too was not even on their list of desired accomplishments.

  • having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order.

  • What does broken really means?

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