Mercedes Gonzalez Amade
HAVANA 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.