Without the Right to Return
Finally he had hope. Manuel Arias found a way for the definitive return to his native land. The Permit of Repatriation. The process was initiated with a Letter of Request to the Cuban Consulate in his country of residence.
Mr. Arias presented his argument and signed the letter, in order to send it later to the Director General of the Direction of Immigration and Alien Status. He certified, in the Department of Legalization of the Ministry of Exterior Relations (MINREX), the accredited documents of his present state and the personal facts about his spouse, with whom he would live in Cuba.
He was seized with anxiety. How would the immigration authorities on the island react when they received the file that the Spanish Consulate had prepared? He would endure waiting three to five months for the response. On top of the table, he was waiting with the envelope containing the 60 euros for the cost of the Permit of Definitive Entry. He was imagining seeing annulled the authorization of his Cuban passport.
Soon his face darkened. He wanted to be optimistic; however, on his ears thundered the words of the lawyer: “The permit of repatriation is authorized in very specific cases. For those who find themselves clinically hopeless or gravely ill, women over 60 years of age, men over 65 and minors of 16.” He enjoyed perfect health and was 55 years old. Nor was he a victim of kidnapping.
He didn’t even fall into the group of people over 60 who could guarantee with documents the compensation of the costs of social security. He had left Cuba with nothing and was returning in the same condition.
In spite of the small chance of being accepted, Manuel continued to dream. The lawyer told him they could grant him exceptional permission, if he presented important arguments for the request. He hoped that his loneliness in Spain would move the Cuban authorities.
Arias had a place to live; his wife lives in Cuba. They had been married for 30 years under Cuban law. However, the little he had was confiscated from him by the Cuban state when he left Cuba in 2003. In another flash of thought, doubts assaulted him again. If he returned, would they take away the rights over his property?
Under family law, all property acquired in marriage formed part of community property. What would happen with the inevitable liquidation that the government would do, unilaterally and also illegally? According to the family code, leaving the country is not cause for extinguishing marriage rights and, therefore, for extinguishing communal property.
The State, in order to dispossess him of all his property, assumed a debt from a previous creditor, in his place and rank, and liquidated the community property. His wife, in order to not maintain a forced co-ownership with the state, had to pay the government the fee that corresponded to Manuel’s share.
Arias called his lawyer, who explained that in cases of repatriation, if Law 989/61 had been applied to the Cuban immigrant, the Cuban authorities would notify him that the return was not retroactive with respect to his belongings, properties, rights and confiscated valuables.
A week later, they knocked at his door. The doorman brought him a letter. Sender: Cuban Consulate of Spain: “Your request has not been accepted, you do not fulfill the requirements for repatriation, you do not have the right to return.”
It’s been a month, Manuel Arias has returned. He asked for a loan of 900 euros from a Spanish bank to pay the migration costs. He recently paid the 40 CUCs that two extensions cost to remain longer in the country. He would try to stay again, although he is aware that he could be deported.
Archived under Human Rights, Cuban Stories, My Island, Permission to Enter and Leave
Translated by Regina Anavy