Cuban Emigres: Happy, Maladjusted or Stuck

Irina Pino

From the 2015 Havana Biennial. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Life changes for all emigres, for better or worse. You can see this in a friend of mine, who has just come back to visit his family, just by looking at him, his transformation has been huge.

Here, he lived with a grimace on his face, he used to complain about how badly everything worked here, about the lack of opportunities to get a decent paying job, him being a skilled professional.

Now that he is living in Miami, his temper has softened, he has a stable and calm job, he’s doing a Masters, he’s traveled to several cities in the United States, he went to Canada and an island in the Caribbean. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t also had his setbacks, which happens in any normal process, but in his case he has gradually got used to another simpler lifestyle.

He smiles at me and shows me his phone, saying: “you can do just about anything with one of these.” You can do wonders with the internet, there are people who have learned how to cut hair, tattoo, and a thousand other things.

He says that he doesn’t miss Havana anymore, that he doesn’t find it pretty anymore, even though he recognizes that here we have architecture with historic value. He admits that after setting foot in New York, he was shocked, and he described this city as an incredible place, as if he were in a post-modern city, which crushes with its grandeur, where its warmth and heterogeneity create a rare symbiosis, which attracts tourists and leaves its mark on them forever.

Other emigres have seen their plans fall apart right in front of their eyes, they have exhausting jobs, they are stressed because they can’t pay all of their bills, they don’t speak the foreign language very well, they have divorced the partners they left Cuba with, etc, etc.

Those who are really on stand-by, are the emigres who are stranded in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, in Serbian camps, or practically anywhere. The majority of these sold their properties, got involved with traffickers and were scammed. They don’t have any kind of status right now.

Meanwhile others met death deep in the jungle, or because they were murdered, and their families are destroyed. A guy in my neighborhood had his girlfriend kidnapped and then they killed her, but he managed to escape and reach the United States.

Day after day, a significant number of emigrants are being returned to Cuba. With the “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy now repealed, many people’s plans of chasing after the dream of having a more prosperous life have been screwed.

One thought on “Cuban Emigres: Happy, Maladjusted or Stuck

  • Instead of complaining that wet-foot/dry-foot has been repealed; Cubans should be thankful that they had such an extraordinarily privileged immigration status for so long! No where else in the world could a 68 year old retiree come to America from a poor 3rd world nation, be automatically granted a green card, and then have their food, housing, and healthcare paid for. As well as being given a tax free monthly stipend. All for doing nothing more then taking a 1 hour plane ride.

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