Maria Matienzo Puerto

Entrance/exit to Havana’s Jose Marti Airport. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Whoever invented the law definitely knew the trap. Yes, we can now travel as tourists; but to leave, almost any country on the globe requires — in addition to applying for a visa — money in a bank account (in euros or US dollars) that back up one’s trip.

What cynicism! An ordinary Cuban with an account in euros or in US dollars! By God!

This is a “mouse trap”! This is the best definition I’ve heard on the street concerning the new situation. It’s not enough to pay for everything, you have to have more.

We’re paid in regular pesos, but we have to exchange our money for Convertible Pesos (CUCs), and to receive American dollars we’re charged a “dignity fee” (the surcharge demanded at money exchange centers here). What’s more, those countries require us to have $2,000 or $3,000 in a bank, though most of us don’t have a dime by the end of the month.

Reality is proving right those analysts and skeptics who complained from the beginning that this was a farce, theater. It’s another game of juggling with the faith of Cubans.

This new joke only fools two huge groups.

Firstly, those who are pathological optimists who believe “now things are beginning to change”; and secondly, those who are unaware of the actual conditions of the island or who have permanently lost contact with Cuban life.


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.

9 thoughts on “Cuba Immigration Reform and Faith Traps

  • Hello Friend, I am glad that you commented. First, I wish to write that I do not agree with you nor with the tone you choose to use to express your opinion. However, I completely understand what I believe you are feeling and I want to let HT’s readers know that I believe a majority of Americans feel the same way you do. I am a frequent commenter to this blog and I am often accused of being extreme. No offense intended, but YOU are extreme! (I hope ‘Luis’ and ‘Grady’ read this)

  • With the new Immigration Law comming here in the US you will have to get a visa, the preffered treatment you had in the past is passe!! No Money no Honey, nothing is for free even here in the US, somebody has to garanty your living expenses and Stay and if you hide this person will be liable, and if you can work with a visa you have to speak english!! Wake up!!

  • A basic ignorance of international travel by millions in Cuba, which was compounded by a misguided Cuban law restricting travel abroad, helped construct today’s surreal scenario.

    Since 1948, I saw my mother’s tribulation, spending $5.00 a month in legal services out of her meager $35.00 monthly maid wages for 24 days, 12 hours a day cleaning, cooking and laundry services. Her legal services fee plus a $500.00 bank account equivalent in today’s money to $10,000, should produce the magical visa, that would quadruple her income for doing similar job in the US in lieu of Cuba.

    It was not until 1959, when “all” Cubans entering the United by air, sea, crossing the Mexican border or jumping the chain fence surrounding Gitmo without any legal documents,were immediately provided with lodging, food, US legal papers and a free flight back to the United States, fostered this “make believe” travel regulations a reality in the minds of most Cubans.

    If this were not the case, can the United States, Canada or Europe open their borders for One Week Only, to all Latin American and Caribbean citizens willing to migrate to any of these countries?

    This fallacy, promoted massively by the US government and the media, encouraged hundreds of thousands of Cubans to “flee”, cannot deny their moral responsibility in at least 50% of the injuries, incarceration and deaths of those biting the bait.

    May those combating human trafficking in all of its forms, add this cruel, political, bloody weapon as another tool in the US arsenal against those labelled as enemy.

  • I assume you are Canadian. When my wife, who is Cuban, and I have travelled to Europe last year we learned that if she had travelled alone, many EU countries would have required that she have a substantial bank deposits, return tickets and local references inorder to obtain an entry visa. Because she was with me, a US citizen, she did not need any of these items. However, we had to prove she was my wife by showing a legalized marriage certificate. It appears that most poor third world countries, not just Cuba, have similar visa hurdles to overcome.

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