By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – Perhaps it’s crossed very few people’s minds how the Cuban people have recently celebrated two virtual referendums without a ballot box, about whether they want change in Cuba or want continuity instead.
On July 11, 2021, hundreds of thousands of Cubans took to the streets to vote. They chanted “freedom” in chorus, along with other slogans, and another referendum with similar outcomes has been held from November that year up until now.
This time the ballot box has been replaced by two journeys: one by sea, crossing the Florida Strait, and another one via Nicaragua, heading towards the Rio Grande, the last natural obstacle on the way to the US.
From November last year up until the present, the number of Cubans who have turned themselves over to US immigration authorities is already close to 200,000.
The Cuban people have clearly expressed their rejection of the ruling political and economic system, not only with this mass and silent exodus, but with protests across the island. However, migration is still the most viable option.
People who have the means to take on this endeavor, whether it’s because they have family living abroad who pay for the journey, or because they have enough means to pay for their exit.
The rest need to settle for surviving in this country/prison and wait for better times that never seem to come.
But there are young people like Mayito, who is very close to my family, innovative and determined people who don’t give into their circumstances. Despite being very young still, Mayito rears pigs, buys fodder and other food on the informal market, like almost everything you need to buy in Cuba for people who don’t have MLC cards (used to shop in USD prices stores) and he also works at a business fixing cellphones.
He has been saving every peso over the past few years, still helping his mother and younger sister, and he now has the “balas” – like we here in Cuba call the money you need to buy a ticket to Nicaragua -, pay off traffickers and get to the US, where a cousin has promised to help him.
The government isn’t repressing or restricting emigration, which they must get a good cut from in human trafficking, in cohorts with their ally in Nicaragua.
Mayito’s mother is sad and worried. Her son is a brave, hard-working, and talented young man.
A young man like so many others could contribute to the present and future of Cuba, if it weren’t for this failed system.
A young man who finds himself forced to leave his family, his girlfriend, his friends, and the land where he was born, in search of a normal life he can’t find here.
Just because of the whims of four dinosaurs ruling this country as if it were their private estate.