To Leave Cuba or to Stay

My sister and niece

By Irina Pino

HAVANA TIMES – People emigrate from the island every day. Long lines at the ID office, Civil Registry, to get registration forms, are nothing new, and we know these people are planning to leave.

Now, departures will intensify with the US new two-year sponsorship measure, of Cubans living in the US. Another way to leave the country and then opt for residency. Nevertheless, some people refuse to do this, even when they have the chance to leave.

This is Tony’s case, a childhood friend, who is an engineer and works as an editor and sound engineer. His daughter lives in Naples and she’s always telling him that she’s going to get the papers she needs to bring him over.

She’s been there over five years and still lives with her mother (Tony’s ex), and her two teenage brothers. She managed to get a job managing a business’ accounts not too long ago, and she makes a good living.

But he refuses to depend on his daughter, he only accepts the medicine she sends, because he needs them, and they are in shortage here. 

When he explains to me why he wants to stay, I understand him. He’d have to live as a plus one, as if he were a tenant in a guesthouse.

He tells me he can’t start his life all over from scratch, he’s already turned 53 years old. He doesn’t speak English too well either. So, what’s he going to do? Work in a supermarket?

Here, he owns two properties, which he doesn’t want to lose, and his idea is to fix one of the apartments up to rent it. The problem now is building materials.

Nancy’s case is completely different. Nancy is a friend who went to Tampa after her son called for her. She hasn’t worked for almost a decade, she spent all of her time missing him and with the desire to meet her grandchildren.

When she visited me, she’d vent out all of her frustrations, about food shortages, how bad transport is, having to go onto Revolico to buy medicine she needs for her blood pressure, and so on.

She was alone, and I’d try to snap her out of her depression by inviting her to the movies or the theater, but then the compulsory subject of conversation of being reunited with her loved ones would always come up.

I don’t know what’s going to happen because most young people want to leave. Cuba has become an old folk’s country.

I think the solution needs to come from within, a change that doesn’t exclude our most active forces, nor bring uprooting or families breaking part as a result.

Read more from Irina Pino’s diary here.



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.

Irina Pino has 278 posts and counting. See all posts by Irina Pino

3 thoughts on “To Leave Cuba or to Stay

  • Moses

    Agree 100%. In Ireland the people decided enough is enough and rose up against the status quo. Che done the same when Cubans rose up against the corrupt regime. If todays Cubans have not got the fight or stomach for another revolution then they will just have to continue as is and let the powers that be degrade them while the get richer and put all the dollars and euros in overseas account in case they are ever toppled.

  • I remain an avid reader and frequent commentor of HT, but I have to admit that even I am getting bored reading posts covering this topic. How many ways can it be said, young people want to leave Cuba? Does it surprise anyone to read about how families have been torn apart by emigration? To be sure, I am not blaming anyone in particular for this malaise, especially not the Editor. Instead, I am wondering out loud how much longer can this Cuban reality continue? How much more interesting will it be to read an article one day about a Cuban resistance movement written by an anonymous writer working in the resistance underground to topple the dictatorship. Even Russia’s mighty Putin is facing increasing threats to his hold on power. Is there no Cuban willing to risk it all?

  • Leave, Cuba is finished

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *