Ivan Garcia, 14 June 2017 — What you lose last is hope. And those who have plans to immigrate to the United States maintain bulletproof optimism.
Close to a small park in Calzada street, next to Rivero’s funeral home, dozens of restless people await their appointment for the consular interview at the American Embassy located at the Havana’s Vedado district.
Ronald, a mixed-race man of almost six feet, requested a tourist visa to visit his mother in Miami. Before going to the embassy he bathed with white flowers and sounded a maraca gourd before the altar of the Virgen de la Caridad, Cuba’s Patron Saint, wishing that they would approve his trip.
Outside the diplomatic site, dozens of people await restlessly. Each one of them has a story to tell. Many have had their visas denied up to five times while some are there for the first time with the intent to get an American visa; they rely on astrology or some other witchcraft.
Daniela is one of those people. “Guys, the astral letter says that Trump instructed the embassy people to give the biggest possible number of visas,” she says to others also waiting.
Rumors grow along the line of those who read in social media — never in the serious news — that Trump, in his next speech in Miami, will reverse the reversal of the “wet foot-dry foot” policy.
In a park on Linea Street with Wi-Fi internet service, next to the Camilo Cienfuegos clinic, two blocks from the United States Embassy, Yaibel comments with a group of internet users that a friend who lives in Florida told him that Trump was going to issue open visa to all Cubans.
The most ridiculous theories circulate around the city among those who dream to migrate. The facts or promises made by Trump to close the faucet of immigration mean nothing to them.
Guys like Josue holds on to anything that makes him think that his luck will change. “That’s the gossip going on. Crazy Trump will open all doors to Cubans… Dude we are the only country in Latin America that lives under a dictatorship. If they give us carte blanch three or four million people will emigrate. The Mariel Boatlift will be small in comparison. That’s the best way to end this regime. These people — the government — will be left alone here”… opines the young man.
In a perfect domino effect, some people echo the huge fantasy. “Someone told me that they were going to offer five million working visas to Cubans. The immigrants would be located in those states where they need laborers. The people would need to come back in around a year, since the Cuban Adjustment Act will be eliminated,” says Daniela, who doesn’t remember where she heard such a delirious version.
Now, let’s talk seriously. If something Donald Trump has showed, aside from being superficial and erratic, it is being a president profoundly anti-immigrant. But more than a few ordinary Cubans want to assert the contrary.
The ones who wish to immigrate are the only segment that awaits with optimism good news from Trump. The spectrum of opinion of the rest of the Cubans ranges from indifference to concern.
In the local dissidence sector, the ones who believed that Trump was going to open his wallet or go back to Obama’s strategy towards dissent, became more pessimistic after the White House announced a decrease of $20 million dollars for civil society programs.
“Those groups that obtained money thanks to the Department of State are pulling their hair out. But the ones that receive financing from the Cuban exiles are not that unprotected,” indicates a dissident who prefers to remain anonymous.
The Palace of the Revolution in Havana is probably the place where Trump’s pronouncements are awaited with the greatest impatience. The autocracy, dressed in olive green, has tried to be prudent with the magnate from New York.
Contrary to Fidel Castro’s strategy, which at the first sign of change would prepare a national show and lengthy anti-imperialist speeches, Raul’s regime has toned that down as much as possible.
In certain moments they have criticized him. However, without offensiveness and keeping the olive branch since the government is betting on continuing the dialogue with the United Estates, to lift the embargo, to receive millions of gringo tourists and to begin business with American companies.
Official analysts are waiting for Trump to act from his entrepreneur side. The autocracy is offering business on a silver plate, as long as it is with state companies.
According to a source that works with Department of Foreign trade, “The ideal would be to continue the roadmap laid out by Obama. With the situation in Venezuela and the internal economic crisis, the official wish is that relations with the United States deepen and millions in investments begins. The government will give in, as long as it doesn’t feel pressured with talk about Human Rights.
“I hope that Trump is pragmatic. If he opens fire and returns to the scenario of the past, those here will climb back into the trenches. Confrontation didn’t yield anything in 55 years. However, in only two years of Obama’s policy, aside from the panic of many internal leaders, there was a large popular acceptance,” declares the source.
In Havana’s streets Trump is not appreciated. “That guy is insane. Dense and a cretin and that’s all. If he sets things back, to me it’s all the same. The majority of ordinary Cubans don’t benefit from the agreements made on December 17. Of course, I think it was the government’s fault,” says Rey Angel, worker.
And the reestablishment of the diplomatic relations and the extension of Obama’s policy to get closer to the the island’s private workforce, caused more notice in the press than concrete changes.
The people consulted do not believe that Trump will reduce the amount of money sent in remittances by Cubans overseas, or the number of trips home by Cubans living in the United States. “If he does, it will affect many people who live off the little money and things that family living in the North (United States) can send”, says a lady waiting in line at Western Union.
The rupture of the Obama strategy will decidedly affect the military regime. And it looks like the White House will fire its rockets against the flotation line. But anything can happen. Trump is just Trump.
Translated by: LYD