By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – This is how a jingle on an ad goes, which is being broadcast on national TV all the time and it annoys me. It must be directed at a special race of Cubans because the exact opposite happens for the majority.
Like Papito, for example. He lived in my neighborhood over a decade ago. He was a man with low purchasing power, and that is a lot worse than being a simple Cuban citizen.
I don’t know how he managed to emigrate to the USA, I guess he must have won the international visa lottery we call the “bombo”. He works as a truck driver out there. He transports goods for many states in the United States. It requires a great deal of sacrifice, as he drives both day and night and is hardly ever at home. It’s only good for those who don’t have a wife or kids, for lonely wanderers.
Of course, everything is relative. He works in a comfortable truck and stays at motels that are just as comfortable whenever the night catches him off guard and he is tired, and more importantly: it’s a well-paid job. It’s allowed him to travel back to Cuba every year. So it isn’t a sacrifice according to Cuban standards. I always see him in a rental car, known here as “Tur”, which cost dozens of dollars per day (and I’m thinking about the cheapest ones).
Another example is Juan Carlos, an old classmate and colleague. He worked as a lawyer in the San Cristobal municipality, belonging to Artemisa province. He had to travel over 50 kms from his town to get to the law firm, every day. I don’t know how he met an Ecuadorean woman, in fine Cuban he “worked her”, got married and then she took him out of the country.
He hasn’t practiced law there, he works as a manager for a retail chain. I ran into him in Consolacion de Sur, less than a month ago. He was visiting and we talked about Ecuador, the situation here. He is helping his parents to do up the house and sends money from time to time.
Yanier is the third example I’m going to give you. He went with his father to the US when he was a teenager still. Today, he is 30 years old and comes back to the island every year. He bought a house for his mother and thanks to him, she no longer has to wake up at the crack of dawn to work in a tabacco workshop that was affecting her health.
Papito, Juan Carlos and Yanier have one thing in common: They have all seen Varadero, Cayo Largo del Sur, Vinales, Tropicana cabaret… and more, but only those who emigrate can because the vast majority of Cubans can’t book or stay in these places. Only foreigners who come on holiday… and the “mayimbes” (high-ranking officials and their families) obviously.
See Cuba first and then go abroad… well, at the end of the day, the songwriter was right about one thing because like Buena Fe’s chorus goes:
There are many Cubas in one Cuba
One Cuba in many Cubas
However, the Cuba that most of us have seen is just a land with little hope and a great deal of hardship.