A Cuban either Mistaken or Abandoned

Miguel Arias Sanchez

Illustration by Carlos
Illustration by Carlos

HAVANA TIMES — This is a short story about an ordinary Cuban.

I was born into a humble family, the only wealth I had was my job. Catholic since I was a child, I was raised with the teachings of family union, love for God and thy neighbor. I was taught the importance of simplicity, honesty and integrity.

When poverty struck with all its misery, I was encouraged to keep on, and I was told time and time again that you could be poor, but still be a man of honor. I grew up with these values, I studied and I graduated in Literature, afterwards teaching classes for over 25 years.

My father was Spanish and because of his wedding uniting the two families, I was able to apply for Spanish citizenship. I lived in Spain, not because of political reasons, I’ve never been interested in politics, but because of family and economic matters.

Then, for personal reasons, I decided to return to the land which witnessed my birth. To be honest, the Cuban Immigration office didn’t stop me, but I had nowhere to live in Cuba and so I had to stay in the mother of my son’s home. We were already divorced and one fine day she told me, as the absolute owner of her house, that I had to leave; I was left on the street.

I needed to officially repatriate in order to once again be legal in my home country, but this formality costs 100 CUC (around $115 USD), which I don’t have. Because I don’t have this paperwork, I am not entitled to my retirement benefits or a job. And so I find myself asking: How am I going to come up with this money? My parents taught me never to steal and I’m not going to start now, but I have to pay for this procedure in order to live legally in my own country.

According to Cuba’s president, in his own words, “none of Cuba’s children will be abandoned”. I’m not sure if there are more people who find themselves in the same situation as me, but I guess there must be.

Who am I in this country, a “wrong-doer” or an abandoned man?

Are there any leaders, public servants or Cubans who can explain to me who I am in this country of mine?

Can anyone help me understand this nonsense?

I don’t think anyone really can.


8 thoughts on “A Cuban either Mistaken or Abandoned

  • May 23, 2016 at 8:03 pm
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    Dear Circles,

    I’m not mis-believing his story whatsoever, in fact I’ve seen his exact situation many, many times. Broke Cuban shows up in Cuba (or the US) and is pissed off because the hand-outs don’t start fast enough.

    It’s an old, tired story.

    During his years and years in Spain he should have put aside 100 CUC knowing that he’d return “home” and repatriate at some point.

  • May 23, 2016 at 3:29 pm
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    The question is I think one of citizenship. Cuba does not accept dual citizenship. so the question is whether Miguel retained his Spanish citizenship, in which case he would not be allowed to work in Cuba, or whether he reverted to being a Cuban citizen? If he became a Cuban citizen again, then he ought to be permitted to work, but probably would not qualify for the full $8 pension per month.

  • May 23, 2016 at 3:11 pm
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    Moses, remember that he had to eat in Cuba (and we don’t know other expenses he may have had) and that can be especially expensive when you don’t have any work or a place to live and have to contribute something to the place you are staying, in this case having to be housed by an ex spouse, as uncomfortable as that might be. The guy was a teacher for 25 years, he’s no fool but has come on hard times, which can happen to anyone.

  • May 23, 2016 at 3:07 pm
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    You may not be aware of it but the unemployment rate in Spain is over 20% (not to mention 45% for youth under 25). You may have never been broke in your life but plenty of others have. That is one of the reasons that some people repatriate as they were facing very hard times in the country they had hoped to improve in. Miguel was willing to share his situation with the readers, I see no reason not to believe his story.

  • May 23, 2016 at 2:19 pm
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    I believe that Eden did misunderstand but I also questioned why Miguel left Spain without sufficient resources to pay for his repatriation. Having lived in Spain for whatever length of time that he did, the extra 100 euros should not have been a huge burden. It would have helped his credibility had he explained why he returned to Cuba unprepared.

  • May 23, 2016 at 2:10 pm
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    I apologize if I’m being too harsh, Circles. I just don’t think that after living abroad for many years that 100 CUC to complete the repatriating paperwork is much of a hurtle to plan for. Returning “home” dead broke doesn’t make sense to me.

    And I think using the, “4 or 5 times the monthly wage” argument is a red herring. He was living for a long time as an ex-pat in Spain, that’s a different situation entirely.

    All the best to you, sir.

  • May 23, 2016 at 1:29 pm
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    Eden, I don’t think you understood the article. How is permission to work mean wanting the government to instantly take care of all of your needs. How does one take care of their own needs if they can’t legally work in their own country without paying an exorbitant sum (4 or 5 times the average monthly wage for a professional) that they don’t have.

  • May 23, 2016 at 12:59 pm
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    You lived for I assume many years in Spain, but you return to Cuba dead broke and expecting the government to instantly take care of all your needs.

    Talk about perpetuating a national stereotype… wow…

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