14ymedio, Eliecer Avila, Havana, 3 July 2016 – A great deal has been written in recent months about the permanent crisis of Cubans stranded in different Latin American countries. Those living outside the island and the few “connected” (i.e. on-line) within it, are certain to have read some of the news and have access to the emotional videos circulating which include ones of families with little children desperately asking for a way out that will allow them to reach the United States.
The truth is that the governments of the countries involved seem to be determined not to cooperate in any way to address the current wave of immigrants. Cuban’s own foreign minister took on the task of persuading them in a tour of the affected countries and managed to get a unanimous commitment for the sake of the “security and stability” of the region.
What is really worrying, incredible as it may seem, is that the vast majority of the Cubans who live on the island have not been aware of the seriousness of the situation their families and friends confront in those countries. This is the direct consequence of the censorship of information in the official media, where references to the subject are scarce and vague.
As a result, I’m amazed and frightened to hear about the number of people who at this very moment are packing their bags. Today, two friends I am very close to came by to say goodbye, and to ask for some details about airports and about “what we need to say” when immigration asks them hard questions.
One of them who is nearly 50 and works in the hotel industry told me, “I’m going to Guyana, a buddy left and is already there, and it connects to Mexico and there are cab drivers…” Right then I interrupted and said, “Compadre, have you looked at a map? Do you know where Guyana is? I go to the map and show him. It was something to see the look of amazement on his face on seeing that Guyana is on the far side of Venezuela and Columbia.
I asked the two of them if there were aware of the crisis and the dangers and they told me, “Well… yeah, it’s always hard but I know someone who already went and told me you can do it.” I looked at them and saw the faces of two people whose desire to leave is greater than any warning, and who had already sold even their pregnant dog to get the money.
The eldest, who was a doubtful after realizing his geographical error, told me, “All things considered compay, I think I’m going to go via Russia. Show me where Russian is.” I showed him and looking from right to left and seeing that at Russia is at one edge of the map and the United States is at the other he mutters, “Wow, but this is a lot longer, this is a boat at least…” I explain patiently, reminding him that the earth is round and that the extreme right of Russia is almost next to Alaska, separated by the Bering Strait. I also tell him, however, that there are direct flights from Cuba to Moscow, which is next to Europe, and that it would take a lot to get to the other end, less populated and at best difficult to access.
My friend looks at his friend and reaffirms, “Look, at least this is just one country and I even remember some Russian phrases. Let’s go that way,” he concludes.
The whole time my mind is filled with the idea of talking about political parties, human rights, market economies, civic resistance and Somos+, but the truth is that when someone is under the influence of a frenzy like this, it is as if rational thought is annulled by the obsession that is driving him.
The most complicated task is to stand in front of a human stampede and try to change the direction of its steps for good of everyone, the nation, the future, when the majority of these sacred things sound like blah-blah-blah.
So I decided to abandon the role of weighty protective father and give them a strong embrace. I said goodbye to them recognizing at least that in this season of the year, the Russian landscape should be gorgeous.