Cubans’ Route To The United States Passes Through Remote Guyana
Cubans’ Route To The United States Passes Through Remote Guyana /
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, 15 November 2016 – He doesn’t yet know how
to find Guyana on a map, but he proudly shows off a plane reservation
from Havana to Panama City and finally to Georgetown. Samuel, a
fictitious name to avoid reprisals, was counting the hours this Saturday
before boarding his plane to the small nation, a new port of entry for
Cubans on their route to the United States.
With the visa restrictions imposed by Ecuador since the end of last
year, the routes islanders must follow to emigrate have been redefined.
The lax entry regulations, which don’t require visas from Cubans, have
made Guyana a first step on the long route of thousands of miles during
which emigrants pass through at least seven countries.
“I sold everything, the apartment I inherited from my mother, my home
appliances and my almost new motorbike,” Samuel told 14ymedio at José
Martí International Airport. With the money, he managed to buy a ticket
to the South American country, some 840 dollars round trip, although he
says it will be a journey with no return.
“They explained everything to me,” says this young Holguin native.
“Several friends have already taken the same route and gotten to Miami,”
although they also warned him that it is “a long and complicated
journey, where anything could happen.”
The line at the counter of Panama’s Copa Airlines is full of people like
Samuel. A couple kissing intensely on Saturday, before the man checked
his suitcases bound for Georgetown. A few yards away, Samuel bent
nervously, again and again, looking over his hotel booking.
“I will not be staying in this place but I need a reservation to avoid
problems when entering Guyana” he explains. As soon as he lands he will
contact Ney, a Mexican woman with a Uruguayan cellphone number who will
put him in contact with the coyotes who will guide him through the first
part of the journey.
“I have to pay $6,000, little by little, but they guarantee I will be at
the United States border before the end of November,” he says. He does
not know anyone in Guyana and does not want to think about the idea of
having to stay in that country. “I do not speak a word of English and
I’ve had enough of little countries like my own,” he jokes, as he
approaches his turn at the Copa Airlines counter.
He is carrying a suitcase that weighs almost nothing. “I have nothing,
what I didn’t sell I gave away.” His only possessions of any worth are a
smart phone, a watch and about 8,000 dollars that remain after getting
rid of all his property in a hurry. “With this I have to get to Miami
because I don’t have even a single cent more,” he says.
Samuel carries contact numbers for Paulo and Adele, a small family
business that operates a bus route between Guyana and Brazil. “A cousin
gave me these numbers in case I change my mind and he wants me to go to
Rio de Janeiro, where he runs a gym.”
Samuel has a degree in physical culture and he believes he can have a
future “in some fitnessss center because there are so many of those in
Florida,” he says, pronouncing the word with a very long, almost
ridiculous, “S” sound, but he is also willing “to lay bricks doing
construction work in the hot sun.”
After a couple of years working as a physical education teacher, the
young man is ready to “conquer the world” if he can. For now, his
challenges are more modest: to get to the Cheddi Jagan Airport in
Georgetown and convince the immigration agent that he’s a tourist
planning to sightsee and shop, to avoid being deported.
“I will just grab my suitcase and rush to the first taxi that passes
by.” The airport is more than 25 miles from the city, but Samuel
predicts that he will be laughing the whole time because he will be
“over there, far from this shit.”
Each day about fifty Cubans depart from Terminal 3 of Havana’s
International Airport heading to Guyana, according to an employee of
Copa Airlines. The numbers could skyrocket if people fear that the
Passport and Visa Service of that country will be closed to islanders,
as happened with Ecuador.
The victory of Donald Trump is also an incentive for emigration, with
the expectations that the Cuban Adjustment Act will be repealed. “It’s
now or never,” says Samuel, with ticket in hand. The young man steps
toward the immigration booth, where an official will affix the stamp to
leave the country. That clicking sound on the paper will be his shot to
Source: Cubans’ Route To The United States Passes Through Remote Guyana
/ 14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez – Translating Cuba –