My Suitcase is Packed / Yoani Sánchez

One of the many denials of permission to travel I have received with no explanation...

Like all the airports in the world, ours is impersonal, stressful, glass and aluminum on all sides. Once in a while the door to customs opens and someone comes out with their luggage wrapped in cellophane. The waiting family members scream, tears running down their faces, the newcomer is flushed with emotion. Meanwhile, on the first floor are the departures, the last hugs between people who may never see each other again. There are booths with glaring officials who check the documents. Passport, visa, ticket… permission to leave. I always wonder what happens to those who pass by this window without a “white card,” without this demeaning authorization that we Cubans must have to leave our own country. But there are few testimonials, the denials happen far from the runway where the planes take off.

The rumor that tomorrow, Friday morning, Raul Castro could announce an easing of the restrictions to enter and leave won’t let me sleep. In four years, my passport has filled with visas to arrive in other countries but lacks a single permit to leave this insularity. Eighteen denials of permission to travel is too much; more like a personal vendetta than the exercise of some bureaucratic regulation. I’ve had my suitcase packed for a long time. The clothing it contains is yellowing with time, the gifts for friends have expired or gone out of style, the papers I would read about current events are outdated. But the suitcase keeps looking at me from the corner of the bedroom. “When will we travel?” I imagine its worn-out wheels asking me. And I can only answer that perhaps this Friday in a parliament — without real power — some decree will return to me a right I should have always enjoyed.

In the event that the anticipated “immigration reform” is announced, I will test its limits from the airport, facing that checkpoint so many fear. My suitcase and I are ready. Willing to see if the guard will press the button that opens the door to the departure lounge, or if he calls security to take me away.

22 December 2011