The Island of Presumptions
A while back Teresa Navarro wrote to me from Costa Rica. She told me that the emigrants of her country survive and make a living in the US painting and cleaning houses, because for most, the highest school level they reached was the secondary. On the contrary, she says that “the Cubans who leave the island talking bad about Fidel to the rest of the world have degrees but they go out and become delinquents and drug traffickers.”
I am not surprised that Latin-Americans think that way of Cubans. Although I don’t think it’s fair, I understand them. Those who have fewer benefits, without any resources or barely any education, go out in search of the American dream. They face all sorts of obstacles: they risk their lives to illegally cross the border, they are victims of human trafficking, and when they are caught by the immigration authorities they are deported back to their countries.
The Cubans who migrate to the US face a different situation. For the most part, they leave Cuba with degrees that would allow them to get good jobs. Many credit this to Fidel and suggest that he really cares about providing free education. Once they step on North American soil, they are well received even if they enter illegally, thanks to the law of “wet feet, dry feet.”
For those looking in from the outside, it may seem as a privilege and as if they take it for granted. The thing is that when the word Cuba is mentioned, many presumptions spring up…”Cubans have what other countries wish they had: free health and education”… However, that is not enough to say that this island is Eden.
The Costa Rican lady is wrong about something. Criticizing the Cuban reality does not mean bad mouthing Fidel. Cuba belongs to all Cubans. Second, the just and the sinners should not be tossed into the same bag. The Cuban immigrant also runs away from poverty, persecution, and excess prohibitions, but they also are the only ones in the world who lose their rights in their own country.
Before judging they should ask: Why do Cubans emigrate? Cuba is very far from being the paradise which they imagine. Sure, education is for everyone, it’s free, and it’s accessible. But is there any point in studying and becoming a professional when he who picks up garbage or works as a security in a hotel is paid better than a doctor?
Translated by Raul G.