Migration by sea

Here, there and everywhere

Up till September 8, the the U.S. Coast Guard had returned 5,421 Cuban rafters in an 11 month period. According to the authorities, 4,162 so far have been returned this year. These are shocking figures.

Last week, here in Havana, representatives of the US Coast Guard and the Cuban Border Patrol met with the aim of joining forces to prevent human trafficking, illegal departures, drug operations and rescue operations. They decided, according to press reports, to increase sea and air patrols.

But the exodus has not stopped. Some are returned while others go on an adventure. Some invent a boat made from whatever they can find, others leave on jet skis, and there are even the daring ones who venture out on a surfboard. But the illegal sea route is not a sport. It is the route taken by some who will do whatever it takes to leave. They travel with the push of the breeze of very hard realities, extremely hard, in fact, and a lack of hope.

The blockade has not destroyed the Cuban government, but between the imperial siege and the failure to carry out structural changes — a topic of discussion for years — “it has been entangled in its own labyrinth,” said an old friend of mine.

The structural crisis has been drowning out the drive and creativity of Cubans. It has broken the producer-consumer relationship—common to all people—recycling it negatively and if I put some dressing on it: I can add the energy crisis, the heat, inflation, dengue, etc: a panorama which spurs the breezes to travel. So, lacking other prospects, Cubans seek to emigrate as the only way out — either by sea or along the Central American route — and escape, leaving with tears in their souls, but leaving and then giving hugs to their most intimate beings, as has happened to a comic actor very loved by the public who, before the departure of his brother, wrote on Facebook:

“One does not leave one’s country to live as a pariah. And enough that it is the fault of the blockade; yes, there is a blockade, and those most affected are those at the bottom, those who are pounded to death.” Later adding: “What pushes them to leave is the lack of perspective, of life. It is better to be uprooted.”