Women and Leaving Cuba

Rosa Martínez

Photo: Chris Lewis

HAVANA TIMES — We don’t know for certain how many young Cubans have emigrated to all latitudes of the globe, but we do know that there are many who have chosen to leave their country in search of economic betterment, greater freedom, or simply fleeing a regimen that they consider suffocating.

Cubans have found many different ways to achieve what has become the cherished dream: to emigrate.

Those most fortunate are the children of the wealthy who manage to leave easily to study, work or live in whatever country that appeals to them.

There are also those who succeed in reuniting with family members who established themselves in other countries many years ago and whose favorable economic situation now allows them to take everyone with them, leaving in Cuba only memories of the sea the sun, the air, the people.

Many left swimming. In Guantanamo you heard every day of Cubans who arrived at the naval base and were sent back, others who were blown up in the largest mine field in the world, the fortunate ones who were taken to the country of supposed freedoms, and more than a few were never heard from again.

There are those who manage to save money while working in Cuba and find a way to buy an airline ticket through friends on the outside or in the department of emigration. Eventually these Cubans are able to arrive peacefully at a destination far from the soil of their homeland, often to nations whose official language they didn’t even know.

Cubans have done a little of everything to leave Cuba.  Here, though, I want to make special mention of the Cuban women who married a foreigner or an emigrated Cuban just to escape the economic misery imposed since the special period.

For many who work as prostitutes, what they do is seen as only one more job, like teaching, healing the sick or laying a brick; but for others it signifies more than just something that they will one day chat about.

When family members in Cuba receive the dollars and euros that are sent by their daughters, sisters, mothers and nieces who went off to a strange country to help support their families, often they don’t perceive the suffering behind each bill.

When the packages arrive full of every kind of item, they know nothing of the story behind each blouse, pair of pants or shoes.

Those who remain behind limit ourselves to enjoying that which arrives from other continents and we forget that our sister married a man who smells bad, or that she has to put up with constant humiliation or with blows; and that every day when her husband comes home she prays that he be drunk, under the influence of drugs, or tired out so that he won’t want to touch her.

Of course, here there are similar stories, but the distance from the families makes the misfortunes there so much sadder.

That’s how many Cuban women live on the outside: surrounded by a world of misery that’s not fundamentally economic, only in order to find a little financial betterment for themselves and their own.


12 thoughts on “Women and Leaving Cuba

  • It depends on the age difference. I am in same situation. I am pretty sure that she is not sincere but I enjoy the attention. Cuba is an Island of misery and poverty. Their view of intimacy and relationship is much different. It is not unusual for the boyfriend to pimp out his girlfriend. Mine also is rushing to get married. Don’t get her pregnant – always use protection because of STD’s. Their are plenty of Cuban women in the US. The one who live in the Island are not suitable for westerners. All Cuban men I talked to in the US told me to block all contact. What does that tell you?

  • I am talking to one Cuban lady. She seems to be relatively in a hurry to meet me and get married. She hasn’t hidden that she wants someone to also help her with her mother. She has said she is also 32 and wants to get married and have a son, and many men just want sex. I don’t know too much about the culture. I have not committed to going to Cuba because we’ve only been talking for 11 days. She seems sincere, but rushing like that seems too much. I do know of stories of Cubans abandoning their husbands, but I don’t know if a lot of women do that. Anyway, it would be hard for her to do that because I am working in South Korea, and she doesn’t speak the language. I just thought I would get feedback. I do appreciate that she is upfront, isn’t hiding her intentions, and is communicative, but I am kind of weary.

  • Exactly how much damage has the US embargo caused? The USSR supported Cuba for 4 decades to the tune of several billions of dollars every year. That is equivalent to multiple Marshal Plans worth of investment. Many countries never co-operated with the embargo, including Mexico. Yet, as soon as the Russian support was dropped in the early 1990’s the Cuban economy collapsed. Isn’t it more likely the disastrous Cuban economy is the result of disastrous socialist economic policies? Today, Cuba trades with many countries around the world. Even as the US continues to ban imports from Cuba, the US sells hundreds of billions worth of good to Cuba, and Cuban expats send billions in remittances. The embargo, or “blockade”, is used as an excuse by the regime to avoid responsibility for their 5 decades of economic mismanagement.

    How can the regime continue to blame the embargo even as they impose 100% taxes on imports of goods from the US to the new self-employed entrepreneurs?

  • THERE is no doubt that the cuban government has made serious economic mistakes but john goodrich is right. a significant amount of economic damage has been done by the embargoes. operacion exterminio. fabian escalante.

  • Anyone who has spent any real time (not just as a tourist) in Cuba is acutely aware that a significant number of problems faced daily in Cuban society are self-imposed and have nothing or very little to do with the embargo. Dirty, unkempt streets in Havana. Unnecessary bad service in restaurants and business offices. Rampant theft of construction materials for personal use or resale from state construction sites are but a few of many examples of self-inflicted wounds that Cubans suffer. For the Cuban elite, most aspects of the embargo are easily avoided. Yet, as recently witnessed by the “defection” of the daughter of Cuban Reform Czar Marino Murillo to the US, even the elite can simply grow fed up with the unnecessary compromises required to support a failing revolution. For you, John, there are no shortages, no blackouts and no lack of personal liberty. Supporting the revolution from your comfy sofa is not hard to imagine. I don’t allay total blame for the decadence in Cuban society on the pimps, whores, thieves and liars. While no one is truly forced to sell their dignity in Cuba, they are certainly compelled and encouraged to do so from the earliest age. For many, it appears to be their only solution. Raul and I agree on one thing: the worst enemy of the revolution is what Cubans do to themselves.

  • There is nothing new in a poor person in a Third World country latching on to a tourist from a wealthy country in order to escape poverty .

    Anyone who has traveled much will see it in action or hear of it. ..

    And since not one of the responders has mentioned it and perhaps are not aware of it , let me quietly let you all in on a big secret:

    The United States has been waging an economic war against the revolution for over 50 years, the intent of which is to make life so miserable for the Cuban people that they would overthrow their revolution ( or leave the country by raft).

    It pisses me off no end that the embargo is so rarely mentioned to the point it seems even supporters of the revolution have their heads up their behinds when it comes to this overriding factor in why Cubans want to leave their island, their home their revolution.

    Smarten up.

  • What is the more dangerous vehicle for escaping Cuba: a leaky raft or a naive tourist? Whatever method chosen they all pose risks.

    I can’t feel too much sympathy for the naive tourist who discovers too late his new Cuban wife used him to escape Castro’s island prison. The facts of life in Cuba are there for all to see and the tourist has only himself to blame if he choses to remain blind.

    Likewise, I don’t blame the Cuban woman for using her guile and wits to try to find a better life. At least by floating out on a gullible tourist she doesn’t risk being eaten by sharks.

  • You almost made me cry Rosa Martinez but then I remember how I was also used by my Cuban ” fiance” .. After visiting Cuba for many years I have seen so many cases where the victim is usually the “Yuma”..

  • all of you. are correct. they are the best cons. you will ever meet. take it from me. and the Dominicans are the same. .

  • Gold Digger is the word to use, nothing else, shame on them and for the other party, stupidity has its price!!
    Still love Cuba’s people, but not the begger, crooks etc.

  • Rosa,
    How about the pain and suffering of the foreigner who marries a Cuban and witnesses him or her morphing into a schizophrenic maniac who refuses to work, lives on welfare (thus draining tax revenue from his host country’s treasury) and then divorces the foreigner, taking half of his or her assets. Assets which the Cuban hasn’t contributed a penny to acquiring. A 2009 report from Canada’s Immigration department found that 25% of Canadian-Cuban marriages can be classified as fraudulent – cases where the Cuban married in order to get out, and nothing more, often with the Cuban already having a novio/novia back home.
    You’re not representing a whole picture here, just one side. If a Cuban chooses to marry a foreigner, that’s their choice. Everyone should take responsibility for their choices. Why should I feel sorry for someone who married without knowing the other party well enough?

  • Let’s not forget the hapless cad from, let’s say, Toronto who likely saved up for a couple of years to spend two fantasy weeks in Varadero, Cuba. While there, he fell victim to the doe-eyed sharpie whose practised “amores” have ensnared many a foreigner, if not at least for a night or so. This doofus falls in love and promises to “rescue” this damsel in distress from her life of discos and casa particulares. OK, fast forward a couple years. She has her Canadian permanent resident card and what does she do? She leaves the pale chubby love of her life for the Cuban guy she met in a disco in downtown Toronto. Who, by the way, is also married to a Canadian woman of equal desperation. Anyway, the point is that this “poor Cuban woman” is not the only victim here unfortuneately. The regime has it way of leaving its mark all over the place.

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