A Cuba-USA Story of Here and There

Rosa Martinez

Foto: Ali Assef

HAVANA TIMES — Danay and Juan are the names of two regular young people out of the many here in Cuba who have been wanting to emigrate for a very long time.

They were born and raised during the cumbersome Special Period crisis of the 1990s and they became adults in the middle of the transformation period of Cuban Socialism which sometimes fills us with doubt, as we didn’t distinguish to any degree of certainty whether this is real socialism or just a poor person’s capitalism.

They aren’t like my generation (45-50 years old) and they are much less the oldest generation. They don’t think like those who are now 14 or 16 years old do either, these are even more discontent.

Danay and Juan have survived in the era of advanced communication, cell phones, the Internet, the Weekly Package of audiovisuals, trips abroad, Cuba opening up to the world and the world to Cuba.

They don’t need to watch a movie or listen to a foreigner talk in order to know how people live outside our borders. They have an uncle, a cousin, a father, a neighbor who comes and goes and tells them, firsthand, what life is like in Miami, Rome, Toronto, just to mention some of the cities that have taken in thousands of Cubans.

Danay and Juan got tired of waiting for the changes promised to make a more equal and inclusive Cuba, with greater economic growth and a better future.

So, they made the difficult decision that he would take a risk and go alone to the United States; if he was successful, he would look for the safest possible way to bring her later; he loved her too much to expose her to the risks of the journey without knowing what would happen. Plus, they weren’t two anymore, but three, there was also a three-year-old baby involved.

Juan reached US soil in summer 2015. The first few months were filled with joy and he was in a state of euphoria for having made the dream he had had for so many years a reality. Later, nostalgia of those he had left behind settled in, but that only made him fight tooth and nail to pay for the dangerous crossing of his two loves.

Sometime afterward, he made several contacts in Central America, it was a matter of them leaving to go to Ecuador, Guyana or any other country that would allow them to enter and then his “friends” would take care of the rest.

But then the border closing on the Nicaraguan side of the border with Costa Rica took place and he didn’t like the images of his fellow countrymen stranded in America, much less having to work and God knows doing what else. They should wait a little longer, desperation isn’t a good adviser.

Once the problem in Costa Rica had been resolved, and all ready to leave, Mr. Obama came along to revoke the Wet-foot, Dry-foot Policy before leaving office, which was like a bucket of cold water for the couple in love who were left with tickets and everything in hand, not to mention that they had sold the little they had left in Cuba.

But, we Cubans are fighters and we never lose our hope. “My love, calm down, I’ll have my residency permit in a bit and I’ll start the struggle for family reunification,” that’s what the husband said to his family, especially to his little girl who didn’t understand why she couldn’t kiss or hug her father and could only see him on a cold cell phone screen.

With his US residency in hand and in the final stages of the family reunification process, the couple were caught by the bad news that the US Government, now Trump’s government, had decided to suspend visas and consular processes at its embassy in Havana.

And even though the US Department of State has just announced that it will keep the family reunification parole program going, Danay and Juan don’t know what to think anymore. They aren’t so sure that they’ll be able to be reunited one day.

Rosa Martínez

Rosa Martinez: I am another Havana Times contributing writer, university professor and mother of two beautiful and spoiled girls, who are my greatest joy. My favorite passions are reading and to write and thanks to HT I’ve been able to satisfy the second. I hope my posts contribute towards a more inclusive and more just Cuba. I hope that someday I can show my face along with each of my posts, without the fear that they will call me a traitor, because I’m not one.