Reports from Cuba: Stranded in Cuba

By Pedro Pablo Morejon in Havana Times:

Stranded in Cuba

It must be hard to be far from home, in exile, waiting for a solution that feels like it’s becoming more and more distant. Like recently during the COVID-19 lockdown in our country.

The government has restricted a universal right to fight the pandemic in our archipelago. Every human’s right to move freely and choose their place of residence within a certain country.

From the cases I have seen firsthand, I don’t believe I’m exaggerating when I say that hundreds of fellow Cubans find themselves stranded in different provinces as a result of regional lockdowns in recent days.

I know a mother who longs to be reunited with her 16-year-old son, who is in Havana. I know of a couple who are separated between Artemisa and Pinar del Rio. There are many more.

For example, Martica, a woman who has been in living in Havana for the past 8 years. She came to Pinar del Rio to visit a daughter, and she hasn’t been able to go home since.

She can’t stay with her daughter because she lives with her father and his current wife. She’s had no other choice but to rent somewhere for as long as this situation lasts.

This has been a great blow for her personal financial situation. She is a self-employed worker, and she is only authorized to exercise her profession in the Central Havana municipality, where she lives.

As a result, she’s heading towards committing a crime just to get by, offering her services with the constant anxiety of being reported or caught, and the subsequent criminal trial for illegal economic activity.

We have already seen various people be arrested, fined and sanctioned. They are broadcast nightly on the National News, in a series of episodes that have become a counter-productive show.

Martica has gone to the Government and the Communist Party to try and resolve her situation. She has written letters and presented them to a party representative. Likewise, she presented all the documents needed to prove she has been living in the capital for years. Without success.

She told me that she was desperate, that she’ll take the risk any day now and go down 1 km before the Bacunagua bridge, that separates Pinar del Rio from Artemisa, and cross it. Walking cross-country and doing the same thing to pass from Artemisa to Havana.

Maybe she will and she might be lucky. Maybe it shouldn’t get to this. I have heard that some cars pass over at a certain time when the control point is abandoned.

In the face of such a reality, we should ask ourselves:

Why hasn’t a protocol been activated to allow these people to do a swab or PCR test and, taking the necessary protection measures, be allowed to go back home?

Are they not human beings with rights?

With all of this pandemic business and the government’s need to keep it in check and show the world our “glorious” social system, have our traditional roles as simple pawns on a chess set, simple faceless and nameless numbers, got worse?

Even with everything going on, I don’t see the need to make people’s lives more difficult. But I remember that famous phrase from the great General Maximo Gomez. He knew us quite well when he said, that “Cubans don’t arrive or go too far.”