Canadians love to vacation in communist Cuba. They frolic on the beaches, dance in the clubs, and some of them bring home a souvenir from their island slave plantation adventure in the form of a Cuban wife or husband. And that is when Canadian hearts start breaking…
Marriage to Cuban leaves Brampton bride brokenhearted — and brokeErin Standen says the man she met in April 2010 vanished three days after finally joining her in Canada — an all-too-familiar story for Border Services.
After Erin Standen married the man of her dreams a year ago, she showered him and his family in Cuba with love — and gifts.
In June, while waiting for the spousal sponsorship to come through in Havana, the 28-year-old Brampton single mother began renovating her basement apartment for their new life.
She ripped out the carpet, installed tile floors, bought a 47-inch big-screen TV and put in a $4,000 bedroom set, anticipating his arrival.
On Jan. 12, the long wait was finally over and Jorge Manuel Batista Gonzalez, 33, arrived at Pearson International Airport, embraced by an exhilarated Standen.
Three days later, Standen says, Gonzalez — after kissing her goodbye as she left for her waitressing job — walked out the door with all the clothes and other things she had bought for him, along with $1,000 tip money she had collected in the bedroom.
All that remained of him, she says, was a misspelled note on a crumpled napkin: “Sorry I don’t fell love anymore. Don’t lock for me. I’l be good. I will try to pay you back. Thank x Everithing. Jorge Manuel.”
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From Cuba, yet another broken heartLike Brampton’s Erin Standen, John-Barry Livingstone claims he was taken advantage of by a spouse who left soon after arriving in Canada.
Two years after his Cuban wife left him, John-Barry Livingstone is left with more than a broken heart.
When his three-year financial commitment as spousal sponsor to Vilma-Rosa Morales-Rodriguez ended last April, the Toronto architect received a $3,800 bill from the province for the welfare benefits his wife has collected.
Stories like his — and that of a Brampton woman whose tale of crushed Cuban love appeared in Thursday’s Star — occur often, according to immigration lawyer Sergio Karas. Many of his clients come seeking help after a sponsored spouse abruptly leaves — five or six a year from the Dominican Republic alone.
“On a resort, in the tropic sun, when you have too many margaritas and pina coladas and these guys are sweet-talking you, you are vulnerable,” Karas said. “I have people coming into my office, saying, ‘I met this person; I want him here; how quickly can he be here?’ Then (the sponsored spouses) came here and leave them.”
In the past decade, 10,563 Cubans came to Canada as permanent residents, the majority under spousal sponsorships or family reunification.
According to an immigration official, marriages of convenience have become a concern at the Havana visa office. In a quality assurance exercise in 2011, officials contacted a sample of Canadians who had married and sponsored Cubans. About one-third of those relationships had ended soon after the new spouse’s arrival in Canada. Fraud and misrepresentation were often cited as the reason, leading officials to review applications more closely than before.
Livingstone, 56, said he met Morales-Rodriguez, 27, at a park in Cuba in April 2007 while he was on a bike tour. After four return visits, he married her on Dec. 24, 2007, and sponsored her to Canada.
The former Cuban civil servant joined him in April 2009. But Livingstone said she left his home as soon as her 11-year-old daughter arrived in Toronto a year later — while he was on a business trip to Chicago.
The Star tried to reach Morales by phone for comment, but the number was no longer in service. An email to her was not returned.
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