Cuban Icarus Dies in Desperate Escape Attempt / Yoani Sánchez

2011-07-18-DSC08013.jpegAdonis G.B. came into the world as the socialist system in Eastern Europe was beginning to collapse. He spent his childhood among the privations of to Cuba’s most critical time which we called “The Special Period.” Perhaps he proudly wore the pioneer scarf and his voice may have been the loudest when the children shouted, “We will be like Che!” We can guess that in his teens he was exposed to the new educational method of teaching classes through television. Also, he had the opportunity to be confused by the dual monetary system and, one find day when he started to shave, he would have discovered in the mirror a man with no expectations.

It is not ours, now, to find political advantage in Adonis’ decision to travel as a stowaway in the landing gear of an Iberian Airbus, but to find the causes that pushed him to die like that. The truth is that the Island’s officials haven’t said a single word about his death, paralyzed, perhaps, by the degree of popular anguish. But despite the institutional secrecy, the news circulates on all sides and and one question predominates: Was the situation of this young man in Cuba so untenable, or did he have an additional reason, whether feeling pursued by danger or compelled to cross the ocean to meet someone? For now, no one knows. The truth is that he could not have undertaken such a plan without planning ahead, because among the most protected places on this island are the airports.

It’s hard not to dwell on his suffering in the cramped space he shared with the jet’s wheels. The pain in his bones fractured by the implacable landing gear mechanism a few seconds after takeoff, the panic of confinement, the rage at understanding the failure of his attempt, the unexpected cold that ended up killing him. No one will ever know if he had the occasion to repent.

We don’t know the severity of his problems, but what we can intuit is that he found no solution at hand to end them. Adonis came to the conclusion that he had to leave the country. But he didn’t have a Spanish grandfather that would allow him to change his nationality; no one in the world would give him a letter of invitation; no embassy would award him a visa, because his desire to be a permanent immigrant surely leaked through his pores. Nor was he a high performance athlete or a talented musician with the ability to travel and desert. He lacked any contact with the human smugglers who frequently cross the Straits of Florida, and had not the slightest idea that he was going to commit a folly.

There is no thermometer that measures human despair and each person has his own threshold of resistance. This young Cuban whose body was found hanging in a strange position in the Madrid airport had two opportunities to participate in elections, never knowing how the candidates he elected thought. He attended elementary school at the time of the Fifth Communist Party Congress and had to wait fourteen more years for the next Party Congress to announce some changes. He probably didn’t have a profession with a future, nor resources to undertake the intricacies of self-employment. His own roof would have been, for his short years, an impossibility.

Adonis could not wait. If he had stayed in his country he would be alive, thinking of a better way to escape from here.