The Answer to a Routine Question Here in Cuba

Paula Henriquez

Foto: Adita Viero

HAVANA TIMES — I have been asked whether I want to leave the country on more than one occasion. It had been a while since I had forgotten the issue, but somebody insisted that I speak about it again a few days ago and once again, the same answer came to mind.

The truth is, I believe I’ve never wanted to leave. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want things to change. Of course I do, I want a better life for everyone here on this small island and plus I’m sure I’m not the only one who does.

Leaving the place where I was born and raised would mean giving up a lot of things, like I know many people have renounced when they left. I have never judged anyone. It’s not my place.

Everyone knows what is best for them and their loved ones and everyone has always known their reasons for doing something and these, no matter what they are, should not be judged. There are people who live their entire lives outside of their country longing to return, there are others who start over with a clean slate, and there are people who tolerate it… In short, there are many different kinds of people.

Meanwhile, I think that I could tolerate it, but that’s one thing, it’s a completely different thing to accept it. Of course I would love to visit other places, meet other people, learn about other cultures and, on the other hand, have many things that I could never even dream of here. I would love to see how I progress, along with my family, thanks to new technology, the evolutionary development of a countless number of spheres in society that we don’t have in this country.

On the other hand, on a spiritual level, I would like to see all of us feeling proud of being Cuban and of living in Cuba, that those who live abroad feel proud of being Cuban, but live abroad; that we don’t mistreat each other, that we stand in solidarity with one another, that we don’t put anyone who comes from abroad above ourselves just because they have more than we do here.

Lastly, leaving the country would mean to lose all of my contacts, my roots, my parents, my relatives, my home and maybe even my memories. We forget things, a lot people say we don’t but I have already realized that we in fact do and I say this because I know friends who have left and, without wanting to, I think, they have forgotten many things.

I don’t want to feel like this, that’s what I will say to this friend who insists on talking about the subject. This feeling of possible nostalgia might weigh heavier than all of the opportunities that living in another country offers. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m not.


Paula Henriquez

Paula Henriquez: Since childhood I have been told I should be careful what I say in public. "Think before you speak, especially in front of others," my mother would say, and it was more of a plea than a scolding. Even today I hear her and I obey her, just that I do not speak, I write. Letters and words are my escape, my exit and daily catharsis, which printed on paper, revive me. And this picture is my refuge.

11 thoughts on “The Answer to a Routine Question Here in Cuba

  • Carlyle, most Muslims in Cuba live in the U.S. occupied Guantanamo Bay. Cubans need to be careful not to exchange one ideology to another! The shift to democracy is not easy; the Russians found that out the hard way.

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