“I won!” a euphoric young woman said as she left the Department of Immigration and Aliens located on 10th of October brandishing her passport in her right hand and a clear plastic with papers in the other. She was so happy about the news that she waved her travel pass like someone who brandishes a sword. She hugged the people who were waiting outside and who seemed to be friends or relatives and one of them pronounced with joy: “I told you that this was your year,” like someone who might announce good fortune. Another pointed out, “Now you can begin a new life,” as if they had freed her after many years in jail.
The people near the group laughed because one of them pointed out that “beginning a new life” was a redundancy. A member of that group, visibly excited, just gave strong and repeated hugs. If there is something this repressive system will pass into history for– among the many injustices that have been established and exacerbated — it will be for having converted Cuba into a big prison for more than five decades.
All this took place on the occasion of the reforms that they made to the historic, discriminatory and intransigent former migratory law, in place of another issued on October 16 of last year, which came into effect this January 14 of 2013.
Nevertheless, the new decree continues violating the right of Cubans who think differently than the political line and one-party state, which, in spite of the unprecedented semblance of openness in 54 years of totalitarianism in Cuba, makes it a more discriminatory law. Either way, if there is something positive we can point to, it is that many of our fellow citizens will be able to enter and leave their country more freely, as is their right recognized and established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the United Nations in 1948.
The municipal immigration department of 10th of October, which is located on Vista Alegre, corner of Juan Delgado, historically has remained — like all of them — packed with people who dream of traveling somewhere where there is not a rarefied atmosphere of control, prohibitions, surveillance, denouncements and totalitarianism.
It has always made me sad to see my countrymen sleeping outside those places in order to have one of the first turns the next day and to settle their negotiation early. Many of them leave never to return. The repeated abuse for so many years by the government against its citizens, has been noticed for a while in this nation, which has a diaspora of around two million in a country of eleven million. The dictatorial Cuban regime always wanted its workers and citizens, through blackmail, to enter obediently through the lane of the authorities in compensatory expectation that “the state would let them travel.”
It is the fate of many third world countries, with their long dictatorships and helplessness, which makes populations of their countries leave in routs of hopelessness from “a regime without end” for any corner of the world. So it is common to hear some on the street say that “they are going to Rwanda and Burundi.” I mean they do not care as long as their destination is out of Cuba.
Optimistic hope for the dawn in which the process is reversed, when they dictate the law to complement the existing, which favors Cubans returning to their homeland because the conditions are created and all the guarantees of citizens are established.
That will be the dawn that will lift the checkered flag of the rights and freedoms because we will have taken a step closer to the goal of democracy. It will also be the day my countrymen finally stop comparing a trip abroad to wining the jackpot in a lottery.
January 15 2013