Reports from Cuba: Everyone is leaving

Pedro Pablo Morejon writes in Havana Times:

Everyone Is Leaving

Ramon Felipe, director of the Compacto group, is a good friend of mine from way back, since the ‘90s when I would walk and watch him head to Pinar every evening to sing at the Rumayor cabaret or someplace else.

He managed to get a contract with a Swedish music company over the years, and he would travel to the Scandinavian country frequently. The Pandemic messed everything up and he couldn’t travel anymore for some reason. 

I ran into him on the highway recently, he was walking, and I asked him what was going on. He’d sold his car. I didn’t want to be tactless, so we talked about things like his music, my literature and other things.

Last week, he wrote to me:

“Do you know where I am?”

“In the USA,” I replied without pretending to be surprised because this news doesn’t surprise me anymore.

Abraham is another friend of mine, a young 22-year-old who managed to make a living as a mechanic and taxi driver. A very lively young man, the kind that lives life to the max. He hardly slept, as he spent his nights between prostitutes and alcohol.

“You can’t go on like this, you’ll look 80 by the time you’re 40,” I’d tell him, but he’d change the subject to talk about politics and criticize the Government.

Just like Ramon, he wrote to tell me he’s in Miami, having arrived in the US just before the Biden Administration’s new immigration policy took effect.

My cousin Danuski recently arrived in the US, and he posted videos of his journey on Facebook. A good friend paid for the trip, just like they did for Abraham, a few days before the border closed.

Katiuska, a neighbor who I’d manage to get a liter of two of yogurt from sometimes, also left, I found out over the weekend. Not just Katiuska, I’ve counted 10 people from my neighborhood in the past few months.

I feel like everyone’s leaving. I remember my classmates from primary school. There were 12 of us in the class, now there’s only 3 of us left in Cuba. More than half of the people I used to play ball with have left from this neighborhood, and they haven’t exactly moved to another neighborhood.

People want to live their lives, stop being hungry and work. They want to be able to go to a supermarket on a Friday and choose and buy food for the week with the fruit of their labor, without stress and lines. They want to be able to dream about the life they want. That’s practically impossible here in Cuba.

She’s also leaving. There’s nothing left for her here, her whole family are waiting for her. She’s been asking me to get my passport for months, that she can help me, and I tell her don’t worry, worry about yourself, when you get there and settle down and insist on helping me, then maybe I’ll look into it.

Maybe I’m sentimental, selfless, a moralist or a fool. I’m just me and I understand myself. But she continues to insist, she’s that drop of water that patiently falls onto the rock until it pierces it.

Yep. I’ve already got my appointment to get my passport. Who knows? Everyone is leaving.