HAVANA TIMES — A horrible uncertainty weighs heavy on his chest. Should I go or should I stay? Should I stay or should I go? This question goes over and over again in his mind.
So many things suggest he leaves, so many other things anchor him to where he is. On the one hand, a deep sadness and on the other, feelings of relief. The indecision that slowly kills us. It’s time to wake up and face the facts, he’d say to himself; but he already imagined himself awake at the same time.
How many other people walk through Havana nowadays with the same feeling? Feelings which go deep within ourselves and give way to unease. At just 20 years old, Carlos fights with these feelings day after day. The young student who has to live with the difficulties of a city whose everyday life bothers, crushes and saddens us on a daily basis… or at least that’s what he said. When I asked him if he would stay or if he would go, he answered that while this may be an easy decision for some, for him it was quite difficult.
Why do so many young Cubans want to leave their country and abandon it?
Carlos: I don’t think it’s a question about abandoning Cuba, even though in the literal sense of the word this is what it means, it’s more about looking for a solution. Like many others, I want another life, one where I don’t feel so oppressed, suffocated, where I feel like when I do something good and successful, as well as moving forward, I can see the results of my work.
What would this life free of opression and suffocation that you talk about be like?
Carlos: A dignified life, where basic human needs can be met by our working efforts. A life where you don’t have to “invent”, as well as working in order to put food on the table. Also, a life where I can enoy my country, where I can see places that I’ve never been able to visit because I’ve never had enough money. To be able to go out on the weekend without counting my cents, like most Cubans do, every day.
Why haven’t you left then?
Carlos: It’s not that simple. It isn’t easy to pack up and leave your roots, to leave behind the world you know and go to a new one, a distant one. It’s not so nice to leave your family behind either. Furthermore, not all of us have the opportunity to leave. Traveling is very expensive, it costs a lot of money and there aren’t always relatives on the other side, helping you out. Leaving on an unsafe boat or raft is a risky business, a deadly threat to your life. A lot of people choose this path, they risk their lives in spite of everything. I haven’t been so desperate, but I guess that if I was, I wouldn’t think twice about leaving Cuba in this way, I don’t know.
What do you think the future holds for young Cubans?
It’s something that I don’t even want to think about, it’s not being a coward, but it does frighten me. I don’t know. We don’t know what will happen.
But they’re saying that everything will change soon…
Carlos: Yes, that’s what they say, but we don’t know whether things will change for the better or for the worse. And now I am talking on the behalf of a lot of young Cubans, and the truth is that a lot of us can’t sit around waiting to see what happens. We’d rather leave; we’d rather escape the reality we’re forced to live. We’re so sick and tired of watching them announce that changes are going to be made and then nothing happens in the end.
A question that always comes to light is why young Cubans don’t do something to change the country’s situation. What do you think about that?
Carlos: I would say that the Cuban people are a passive people and that we don’t want riots of any kind, maybe that’s why we haven’t done anything to change the situation. Some people say it’s because of fear, it’s likely that we’re afraid… or that we aren’t united, the Cuban people are not united. You just have to take a look at how much we hurt one another. I feel that Cubans respect peace first and foremost, above everything else. When I talk about peace, I mean tranquility, even with all of its uncertainties.
*P.S. Carlos doesn’t really exist; he’s just a summary of different young Cubans’ thoughts, opinions and feelings on this subject.