Eight Times in Three Years: Refused “Permission” to Leave My Island / Yoani Sánchez

Exclusive to the Huffington Post.

Fortunately I had few illusions left, because otherwise I would have felt cheated a couple of weeks ago when I was refused – for the eighth time in just three years – permission to travel abroad.

Since General Raul Castro inherited Cuba’s presidency in February 2008, the topic of greatest interest to scholars and Cuba-watchers is the changes he will implement in Cuban socialism. Speculation was fueled by the General’s own statement that it was necessary to eliminate arbitrary prohibitions and to make structural changes in the economy.

Many of us had the fantasy that restrictions imposed on those of us living on the island would be abolished; for starters we assumed we would be able to have internet service at home, along with cable or satellite television We assumed he would eliminate the absurd prohibition on selling a home or a motor vehicle and that, finally, the economic right to found a company would cease to be a privilege allowed only to state and foreign investors. But our most delusional chimera, from the time we began to hear of coming “openings,” was that the restrictions that force the inhabitants of the “first free territory of America” to ask permission to visit another country would be eradicated.

But there should be no illusions that this kind of change is close to happening; better we should change our illusions. Mine are not focused on the will of my leaders, but on the weight of obstinate reality. Everything will change, whether they want it to or not. My grandchildren are going to think I’m a liar when I tell them how things used to be in my time, and I will be happy seeing that none of this nonsense will remain to fall on their heads.

October 25, 2010