At Age 82, Cuban Martin Guzman Fernandez Leaves the Island and Arrives in the United States

Martín Guzmán Fernández made a 78-day journey to reach the United States. (Ernesto Guzmán)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ángel Salinas, Mexico, 17 May 2022 — Leave Cuba? The grandchildren and children had already done it years before. Martín Guzmán Fernández did not have a hard time deciding. On Saturday, after 78 days of travel, he arrived in the United States, “he crossed through Arizona and this Sunday la migra picked him up” along with three other Cubans who accompanied him, Ernesto, the son of this man from Havana, tells 14ymedio.  

He was released from the migrant detention center on Monday. “He was there less than 24 hours and they treated him very well,” confirms his son, on the way to the place to pick him up and reunite him with the rest of the family.

“My father is part of one of the lost generations, from when the Revolution triumphed. Deceived like many,” says Ernesto by telephone from Panama, where he is currently visiting his sister and nephew.

At 82 years old, Guzmán “had to continue working in the Ministry of Construction because the retirement pay was not enough for him,” says Ernesto. “My father is diabetic and he has problems with a vein. He had a heart attack.”

Leaning on his cane, this octogenarian had to “line up at the pharmacy from two in the morning,” all to get told, when he arrived, that “there were no medicines.” He walked miles to buy food, “because in order to eat he had to have currency they he didn’t get paid in.”

Guzmán was afraid, but not of leaving the island, “he was afraid of not seeing us again,” says Ernesto. The way out was given on February 26, like most Cubans, by air through Managua (Nicaragua). The marked route indicated Tegucigalpa, in Honduras, as the second point, and from there to Guatemala to later travel to Tapachula, Chiapas.

There was some “desperation” in Tapachula, “when I had been waiting for a humanitarian visa for 25 days,” says Guzmán’s son. Eight days later they were able to leave and undertook a 3,500 kilometer journey by bus to the border with Arizona.

Martín Guzmán Fernández, this Tuesday, after being released by the immigration authorities. (Courtesy)

According to the latest preliminary figures from the Customs and Border Protection Office to which The Washington Post had access, almost 35,000 Cubans were detained on the southern border of the United States in April alone. The number was much higher than the 16,550 that were counted in February and higher than the 32,141 in March.

Ernesto left Cuba five years ago and remembers that “the emigration of the family began in 2012. The first were my two children, then my wife and I.” Before arriving in the United States, he was an administrator at Esedip, dependent on the Ministry of Construction, on the island. He set up a vehicle repair shop in Panama. “I would buy wrecked cars cleared by insurance, fix them up, paint them up and sell them.”

His training as an engineer earned him a chance to join the construction team of Line 2 of the Panama Metro. In addition, he set up a hostel to help Cubans passing through that country.

In recent days, several groups of more than 100 Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Colombians, Hondurans and Guatemalans have crossed the Rio Grande to reach Eagles Pass in the United States.

Through the borders of Tijuana and Reynosa, Cuban mothers are being allowed to stay with their children, but the men are being returned to Mexico. “They don’t tell you anything, they just turn you back and tell you to wait,” says Roberto, a Cuban who has been in the Senda de Vida shelter in the border state of Tamaulipas for 12 days.


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