In 2003, Manuel Arias applied for Spanish citizenship. He got a visa from the European motherland thanks to his parents, who were Spanish immigrants who came to the island. When Arias left Cuba, the government labeled him as a permanent emigrant. His properties were nationalized through confiscation with no rightful compensation.
He does not have a valid national ID and he’s not registered to received the monthly food ration. Makes sense, he doesn’t live in Cuba anymore. When he comes to visit, he has to pay for all services as if he were a foreign-born visitor. However, to enter and exit the country, he needs a Cuban passport, as if he still were a Cuban citizen.
Manuel wants to come back to Cuba; he is still legally married in the island. He hasn’t had any luck in Spain, where he is unemployed. He was not doing OK here either, but there, he is alone. He doesn’t care about starting over at age 55. In March 2009, when he came to visit and after he used all the extensions permitted to stay here longer, he try to stay permanently. But Cuban immigration authorities deported him back to Spain.
One can’t help but wonder why it is that the Cuban government denies him the right to come back. Poor Arias, he doesn’t understand that the day he decided to adopt another country’s citizenship, he was sentenced to exile. His properties were confiscated, he needs to pay to enter the country where he was born and also if he wants to stay for a longer period of time.
What Mr.Arias really does not understand is that, by living abroad, he is an asset to the Cuban government. In here, he is a nuisance. He’s getting older and he will return to Spain as he went the first time: with nothing.
By Laritza Diversent
Translated by Mailyn Salabarria