On Cuban Alimony

Mercedes Gonzalez Amade

mercedes1HAVANA TIMES — I recently filed an official petition requesting alimony from my child’s father. I didn’t want to do it, and I thought it about a lot before making my decision – but I finally went ahead and did it.

The hearing was held without delay. There, I was able to confirm that my former spouse had intended to evade his responsibilities – the same thing he had done all his life. He slandered me, lied left and right, in short, it was a big joke for me and (unfortunately) also for my son.

As many of you know, I am on social assistance – that is to say, the State helps me with a 200-peso monthly pension (the equivalent of US $8). I am grateful, but the fact is that this amount of money isn’t enough to buy food, clothing and footwear for a 14-year-old kid (who weighs 160 pounds and wears a size 12 shoe), plus what I need. It’s becoming more and more difficult to “scrounge up” the food these days, when magic no longer works.

I only turned to justice when I had no other option. I feel bound hand and foot. Over the past 14 years, I occasionally asked my ex-husband for help, and he never gave it to me.

At the hearing, we couldn’t come to an agreement as to the amount of money he should give my son. It was decided the judge would establish the amount and that we were to await the ruling at home.

A short time later, the said ruling arrived and I was astonished, and angry, to read that my son Carlitos would be receiving 80 Cuban pesos a month from his father – that is to say, around US $3.

Some friends tell me the law is in keeping with the salaries we earn – they couldn’t demand more. But that’s no consolation for me. I can barely work because of my condition and everything I do I do as a volunteer (my work at the Cuban Association for the Physically Challenged, or ACLIFIM, the sports I practice and the chores around the house).

I have a strong will, but my body doesn’t react the same way every day. I would be unable to keep a job, a duty I could not be excused from. And a pair of shoes for my son costs, at minimum, 20 dollars.

I don’t like seeing my kid feel inferior because of the financial problems he has to deal with. The cost of living has gone up and prices are now higher. No mother wants their son to have a difficult time, but it’s out of my hands, I’ve done what I can, and I thought the alimony would help solve this problem. I was wrong; it has only brought us more frustration.

Carlitos is no longer thinking of going to university. What he wants to do is get out of high school and get a job as quickly as possible. It pains me, but I understand him: he is growing up and no longer wants to settle for what little I can offer him.

8 thoughts on “On Cuban Alimony

  • Yes Moses because people like you were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. I went to school barefoot; I slept on the floor; I did not have access to High School education because, in my day, it was a privilege and not a right. I broke sugar cane for lunch when there was nothing tat home to eat for lunch and I returned to school to get the best of the Primary Sckool education that was available. I self educated myself. I am not ashamed of my past. I cannot think like an oligarch even though I possess a house and a vehicle. This is why I can easily identifu with the poor, oppressed, struggling masses of the world. This is why I can easily identify with the Cuban Revolution since 1959. I am working class to my backbone!! Can you identify with the struggling masses of the world? I keep asking you to identify yourself- Working Class or Oppressor? By the way,you do not have to say anything.

  • As a Cuban I can say that there is nothing honorable in the represion of the Ciban revolution. Do you disagree?

  • AFAIK, there is no such thing as alimony in Cuba. This article is about child support and thats a completely different issue.

    That aside, you are complaining about how you live in poverty (valid complaint), getting 200 CUP in government help (nice of them, BTW) … and then jump the gun and complain about your ex been forced to contribute 80 CUP a month in child support without providing any information about his income and despite grudgingly recognizing that is based on a fair portion of his salary.

    The bottom line is: you are poor and disabled, living of social assistance from a government of a country that is itself very poor. You don’t want your kid feeling inferior to his peers because of that poverty, but there is realistically nothing you can do to resolve that situation. Even if your ex gives you 50% of his income, that will not be enough to keep up with your kid peers, so there is no point trying.

    Thats harsh, but is your reality, so you don’t have any choice but to live with it. Your kid have the right idea in mind, and realistically is the only way out, for both of you. My suggestion to you: encourage him to go to a low skill, high salary (for Cuba standards) career path and let him work his way to university if thats what he wants, and the first choice that comes to mind is the military.

    The Camilitos are uniformed, so personal wealth has no bearing on their social stand, the school provides adequate housing and food, and once graduated he can opt to work as officer in the military, ensuring a high income (for Cuba standards) and a university study (if he has the skills and the will to do so)

    And that coming form someone who has a dislike of the military in general, but in your situation I would not hesitate to consider that option.

  • So your best defense of Castros’ revolution is “at least it is better than the worst case scenario in the US “. Is that what makes you proud?

  • Your comments do not surprise me, because you are always looking for a way to dishonour the Revolution; can the situation of this person be as heinous as the many people on the streets of America searching the trash cans for something to eat? At least, this woman’s son is going to school. At least the government is looking after the parent. At least, the mother did not have to spend what she did not have to have a court hearing. In America, who would have gone to Court for free? This woman is not homeless; she does not have to pay for his education which is free of cost. AMEN to that!!

  • It’s not money that you need pero a husband. I understand that tu tiene algun problemas de salud. These are best fixed by a combination of traditional match making (as in fuego) and international cooperation in the field of medicine.

  • Hi Mercedes

    That is a sad situation and I can’t see how it can be fixed without a big improvement in Cuba’s economy.

    I would like to bring to your attention an even sadder example. I heard this story many years ago and only one case, I heard of a Cuban father living outside Cuba who received tax deductions in the country where he was living in on the bases that he had dependable kids living in Cuba. He kept the
    tax benefit for himself and send nothing to his kids in Cuba. I was very upset, the benefit was in the order of thousands of dollars a year.

    As a journalist, with the time, passion and tools to fight for a good cause, could you find out more about this kind of scenario? Was this a thing of the past or could this be happening today? Could all these Cuban mothers who has been abandoned by their husbands find a legal way to get part of these benefits?

    And in a more broader context ….Why can’t a Cuban kid living in Cuba find a legal way to get financial support from his father even if the father is living abroad?

    Hope you can read this message.

  • $8 in pension income and $3 in alimony? Is this the achievement that the Castros’ revolution wants the world to emulate? If shoes for a teenage boy were 5 cents, this salary might be bearable. But to allow shoes (not Adidas, I’m sure ) to cost $20 and to expect her to live on $11 is criminal.

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