Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cuba is leaving Cuba

Leave my country was a painful decision based in a long road of desperation and disappointments. Usually, immigrants arrive to their foster countries with dreams of a brilliant future and a better life. In their pockets carry dreams, expectations, frustrations and fears. Sometimes they carry money, valuables and some precious keepsakes. In my case, I stepped on Pearson Airport with $60.00 in my pockets, a desperate journey of anguish and pain, and nothing but hopes in my heart.Cuba is leaving Cuba

I gave up dreams and convictions, and I truly knew my life could be change forever in so many ways. I reached the point where I couldn’t live in my country anymore, and I left behind love ones to whom I would have to take care. They were in my mind in first term when I took the decision to leave and walked on Canada’s busiest airport.

We had heard this story over and over. Every Cuban who leaves his country is carrying a trunk of broken dreams and many stories. The majority of them only wish a better life with no political involvement. The beautiful little island has been the source of the most incredible and outrageous attempts to get out the country.

A story that began in 1959 and until now, Cuba’s youth is leaving. The reasons had changed through the times.

The first waves of immigrants begun with the escape of political opponents and the wealthiest in Cuba’ society, and sooner turned a twist in the earlier 70’s when the first exiles were allowed to visit their relatives. They brought dollars, gifts to their relatives and many personal stories about dreams come true.

In the brisk, Cuban society opened their eyes to their peer’s achievements, and the long journey abroad began again after an impasse of few years in the latest 60’s. The young generation was especially stroke and they are the most important source of immigrants after the “Maceitos”, named after that brigade  of exiles named “Maceo”.

For Cubans, reach US soil is the ultimately achieve. America is the closest and the most important place in which close relatives and friends have being living, and to where they focus their dreams. This actual fact has a history behind.

Between December 1960 and October 1962, 14 000 Cuban children left their country alone to go to US in an unusual act, after their parents feared they will be send to the Soviet Union to be indoctrinated by the Castro regime. The operation was named “Operation Peter Pan”. Let me say: an act that a few of them had regretted today, but the majority are proud of what their parents did.

In 1966, the US Congress passed the Cuban Adjustment Act, in which they support and give aid to the Cubans refugees. That law backs every Cuban dream to reach America over immigrants of other countries included Cuba’s neighbours.

As many know, 1980 was the year were the incidents in Peru’s Embassy happened and brought an estimated of 125 000 Cubans to US land with the Mariel boatlifts. With them, the government of US acknowledged an estimated of 25 000 criminals and mentally ills as a result of a dirty operation folded by the Cuban government, who opened its prisons for those who wanted to go in the adventure.

Mid 90’s, US lawmakers implemented what it is known as “The wet foot, Dry foot” law, what it means any Cuban immigrant who steep on American soil is guaranteed his residence. That law, with the increase of economic problems thanks to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Socialist block in Easter Europe, created the best conditions to improve the massive escape of Cubans to US.

Today, Cuba is leaving Cuba as we can say. The youth doesn’t have any expectation inside our country. Their dream is to reach mainly America or any other place. Cubans authorities laugh out loud about it, but they know it is true. And it is easy to show the true with actual facts and statistics.

There is the fact that when US installed for first time the lottery to immigrate to US, in recent years in Havana, 2 million of Cubans inscribed their names on it. Is it not enough prove of it?

If you consult the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics 2008 published by the Office of Immigration Statistics of the Department of Homeland Security of US government, you could see that the numbers are speaking themselves:

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

14 019

18 960

27 453

28 182

9 262

20 488

36 261

45 614

29 104

49 500

Officially, between 2000 and 2008, there had been 264 824 entrances in US territory admitted by the government, and when you compared with decades before, even when 2009 is not still in the statistics, the increase is significant and there is no Peru’s embassy incident involve. It is just a wave of massive escape from the country. If you calculate all the totals since 1959, the amount surpasses the million. For an island of only 11 million, the statistics are overwhelmed.

What respect to Canada, even when it is not significant and comparable with the US, the amounts are increased. I add here the numbers obtained from Statistics Canada:

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

693

854

971

866

876

857

979

1 044

1 338

1 296

The real story is our youth is leaving and the future of our country is in stake. Any country couldn’t sustain any secure future if its youth is giving up any possible future in their premises. And this is not any spooky speculation, it is for real.

I experienced myself, and here and there when you speak with our fellows you will find the same story again and again. Recently, a cousin of mine is walking the same well-known track of any of us: he is leaving Cuba for the best. In his email to my he told me:

“There is not politic matter involve. It’s just I can’t live here anymore, I don’t have a future for me and for my family.”

And I am quoting him.

Wherever you look, wherever you go and ask our folks, the answers are the same: Cuba is leaving Cuba. The island is just hanging gloves and it is not betting for the future: there is no future, it already left the country for the best.

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