“The Only Thing I Want Is For Them To Let Me Be With My Son” / 14ymedo, Mario Penton

Fernando Collazo and Tania Chacon. (Facebook)
Fernando Collazo and Tania Chacon. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 18 March 2016 — When Fernando Collazo left Cuba on 23 October 2014 heading to Ecuador, he carried painfully in his heart nostalgia for his family and the homeland he left behind and the illusion of a person who hopes to devote his best energies to succeeding in a foreign country and, at the expense of every sacrifice, to helping his family.

He was driven by his commitment to his brother, who did not hesitate for a moment to sell his possession to get the money needed for a plane ticket to Quito in which the family deposited its hopes. Finally, they would emerge from misery and illegality. Fernando would not have to keep selling orange concentrate in the capital, stolen in God only knows what ways from the few remaining citrus producers in Jaguey Grande.

Fernando is a simple man, hardened by physical labor, a man of few words, but with an exquisite sensitivity. He came to the land of Pichincha like many Cubans, with the hope of asking the coyotes, once he got the money together, to help him continue his journey to the United States. “I came to this country with $200 in my pocket. That’s all I had.”

On his third day in the country, on a tourist visa, he began working as a bricklayer in a school in Tulcán. It was there that he met Tania Chacon, an Ecuadorean woman, the single mother of an 11-year-old. They decided to live together and Collazo took over maintenance of the house, where his mother-in-law also lived.

Months passed and Tania was pregnant. Five months into the pregnancy, he needed to regularize his immigration status to be able to continue to work when his son was born, so he went to the Cuban consulate to ask for instructions about how to proceed. There he saw an official who explained that after the birth of the baby he could benefit from Ecuadorian nationality without any more bureaucratic complications. Encouraged by this hope, he took the minibus back to his city when the immigration police launched a raid and he was arrested.

“The first thing they did was take my belt, my cellphone and the thirty dollars I had,” he remembers. He never saw the money again. He was detained and held in a cell until he was taken to the Hotel Carrion, a center where they hold people who are not formally under arrest but nor are they free to leave, while awaiting processing for deportation to their places of origin.

Fernando’s trial was held and the judge ruled for his deportation. Tania Chacon has asked repeatedly that he be allowed to stay, at least until the birth of their son. The repeated appeals have exhausted the family resources to the extent that they have been selling their appliances. Not even a child support judgment they tried as a way to stop the process was successful.

Nor have the numerous letters sent by Cubans to president Rafael Correa asking about the case. The recommendations from his employers are worthless as are the interventions from humanitarian organizations. “The only thing I want is for them to let me be with my son. I don’t care if they deport me afterwards, at least let me see him,” asks Fernando.

This Friday is the last chance to secure the release of Fernando Collazo. His lawyer filed a habeas corpus plea to try to stop the deportation process. Organizations of Cuban civil society in the Andean country have expressed their support through a statement and are demanding his release.