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To Dream in Cuba is to Dream of Escape

To Dream in Cuba is to Dream of Escape / Jorge Olivera Castillo
Posted on February 14, 2014
“If I die from drowning, I don’t care, if here I’m dead in life.”

HAVANA, Cuba — Although it is increasingly risky, crossing 90 miles on a
raft continues to be the dream of the young people. My neighbor Alfredo
confessed to me his determination to undertake a journey that could cost
him his life. He already has the exact measurements of a raft, the
paddles and a sail, parts with which, this summer, he will try his luck
against the waters of the Straits of Florida.

“If I die from drowning, I don’t care,” he said, “completely, if here
I’m dead in life. There are no changes or anything close to it. I live
overcome by anxiety.”

As someone who is self-employed — at first — he had the illusion of
achieving some goals, that he dreamed of for more than 20 years, but the
reality was stronger than his dreams. The harassment from the State
inspectors, being forced to engage in more than one illegality in order
to make a profit, and the rising prices of raw materials on the black
market, made it impossible for him to make and sell pizzas.

Despite the risky plan to get to the United States, thousands of young
Cubans only dream of escape, like Alfredo. “It is impossible to live in
peace. Between the fines and the chance that they will close your
business for not complying with the established rules, you can’t get
ahead. This could be fatal and you can end up in jail. So I will try to
see if I can get to the Bahamas. I know it’s hard to get asylum, but
maybe I’ll be happy. I’m determined, whatever happens,” Alfredo says,
without listening to my advice to avoid such a dangerous solution.

In recent weeks, hundreds of the self-employed have surrendered their
licenses because of so many problems in doing their work. Without
wholesale markets and with the rampant corruption, efforts to get ahead
are in limbo. Young people just think about leaving the country.

But this exodus has grave consequences for the social and cultural
order. With low birth rates and the constant migration of young people,
the future of the island is bleak.

On the other hand, those who dream of leaving and don’t make it, sink
into marginality. Alcoholism, suicides and endless uncivilized behaviors
are the escape valves.

Alfredo is ready for the challenge. Will he reach his destination? Will
it be returned to the Island after being caught on the open sea by U.S.
Coast Guard? Will he die in the jaws of a shark?

Cubanet, 11 February 2014, Jorge Olivera Castillo

Source: To Dream in Cuba is to Dream of Escape / Jorge Olivera Castillo
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