Maria Matienzo Puerto

Medicos cubanos en Venezuela

Tamara is a single mother who sells anything she can to maintain herself and her two children. She’ll hawk CDs, sanitary pads or tomato sandwiches when sales of the other items start to wane. Her educational level is not past junior high, but that doesn’t mean she’s illiterate.

Alberto is a man who’s been married for fifteen years. He’s a professor at the San Jose de las Lajas Agrarian University and has a teenaged son who he’s been raising alone for the past three years.

Diana is a doctor serving on an internationalist mission in Venezuela. She comes home to visit her family for a few weeks a year. She has put in three years but still has two more to go. Despite the homesickness, she hasn’t given up because she knows that what she earns there can’t be dreamt of here.

Alberto and Diana are married, but Alberto has also been in a relationship with Tamara for two years.

Alberto and Tamara share day-to-day life, the bills, economic concerns, the bathroom and their bed the whole time (except for the few weeks of the year when Diana comes to visit).

Tamara has no illusions because she knows that her relationship will only last as long as “the other one is away.”

Living so far away, Diana communicates little with Havana because it’s more important to save. When she lived here they had to share the house with her mother-in-law, in addition to put up with all the nonsense of that old woman, who was also the owner of the house.

This is a good opportunity to “buy” an apartment and become independent, though it will cost five long years of separation.

In the beginning, since Diana and Alberto wanted to stay together, they went through all the procedures so that the family could travel together. Keeping in mind that this would be a mission over an extended period of time; but the answer was no.

Children cannot leave the country before serving their military service obligation and the husband is part of the educational system, which would prevent him from securing authorization to leave.

Still, there was a deeper and more illogical explanation: The fear of doctors deserting. This is a reality that is imposed over and above any basic human concern. This is the side of the coin that shows how much Cuban family unity is really worth.

Who should we judge of the three? I won’t dare cast my opinion. They each have their reasons.


Maria Matienzo

Maria Matienzo Puerto: I dreamed once that I was a butterfly who had come from Africa and discovered that I had been alive for thirty years. From that time on, I constructed my world while I was sleeping: I was born in a magic city like Havana; I dedicated myself to journalism; I wrote and edited books for children; I met to discuss art with wonderful people; I fell in love with a woman. Of course, there are certain points of coincidence with the reality of my waking life and it’s that I prefer the silence of reading and the pleasure of a good movie.

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