A Cuban with Friends the World Over

Rosa Martinez

Departure. Illustration by Yasser Castellanos

HAVANA TIMES —I’ve lost count of the number of my friends who have left Cuba and are now scattered across the world.

The first of my friends to leave was Melina, a girl in my high school class back in the eleventh grade. She had told us she wouldn’t be in the school for long the moment she joined our class, as most of her family was already living in the United States and she and her parents were planning to emigrate also.

Ultimately, they weren’t able to leave the country as quickly as her parents wished, but it didn’t take as long as she would have wanted either. At the end of the twelfth grade, that olive-skinned, bright-eyed girl left Cuba, never to return, taking one of the most sincere friendships I’ve ever had away from me.

A second group of friends would leave the country during my university years. Before finishing their degrees, two of my classmates, a woman from Santiago de Cuba so charismatic she could have mobilized an entire country, and an introverted but very intelligent girl from Guantanamo, left for Europe. One had gotten married and left with her husband. The other, who had been invited by some friends of hers, never returned from her trip.

A number of other friends left after completing their degrees (in linguistics and other majors). Some were chasing love, others dreams and illusions. One went looking for freedom, and another in search of the latest fashion.

The last one to leave was Luisa, a neighbor of mine who traveled abroad to be able to work and support her family, including her two small daughters. Her family had expected her to return at the end of the term of her first contract. She’s already entered into a third contract and no one knows for certain when she will return.

I feel sorry for her daughters, who long for her to come back, but I feel she has already joined the long list of friends scattered across the world.

One thought on “A Cuban with Friends the World Over

  • Nearly one out five Cubans (or those who claim to be Cuban) live outside of Cuba. Every Cuban I know in Cuba has at least one close friend or family member living in another country. To what or whom is this every increasing exodus of Cuba’s best and brightest owed. To the disastrous and unsustainable policies set in place by the Castros.

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