Sandra ended her high school studies thanks to the pressure of her parents. But that was the limit. She prefered to stay at home, doing domestic work. But during the afternoon, she fixed herself up and sat on the corner, to see if she could get herself a boyfriend with a car.
In high school she cried silently. She felt like she was outside of this world. She never spent time with her girlfriends. She didn’t enjoy her weekends: she didn’t have any shoes or clothes to go out in. Her mother was an educator in a preschool, her father, a guard at a state business. The salaries of both barely provided enough food to eat.
Oftentimes, she felt mean when demanding from her parents what they couldn’t give her. She felt impotent and had a great inferiority complex. A frustration that at moments made her want to end her life, but she lacked the courage.
Between sobs, she asked the saints why she couldn’t be normal and do the same things as the other kids her age: dress fashionably, go to a discotheque and dance freely. A thousand and one times, she cursed the day she was born. She blamed her mother for having brought her into the world only to work, and blamed God for being alive. It was then when she decided not to continue her studies.
She married and went to live with her husband in a nice house. He had a car and bought her everything that she dreamed of. But that hadn’t stopped her from crying every night. In addition to the clothes, shoes, perfumes, she had a damaged retina from the heavy blows her husband gave her one night when he was drunk. Also, she had gonorrhea and syphilis. With everything, she preferred to tolerate the infidelity and maltreatment and even contracting a sexually transmitted disease before returning to her parent’s house.
It is not normal for a young person to be so depressed by not having an attractive and modern wardrobe. And these deficiencies are not convincing reasons to abandon her studies. The problem is more profound. In Cuba, a high professional qualification doesn’t guarantee economic independence for young people when they finish their career.
To that is added another reality. Those who don’t study or work, can have higher purchasing power than a doctor, engineer, or lawyer. Even when both parents are professionals: however much they want it, their earnings don’t permit them to have an adequate life to satisfy all of their family’s needs. And much less to meet the expectations of their children, especially if they are teenagers.
These realities affect the young people. And it is one of the reasons why many Cubans, before becoming a professional, prefer to prostitute themselves or depend on a spouse that mistreats them. All for trivial issues.
Orig date 16 May 09
Translated by Bill Wingrove
Marta, age 30, is an electrical engineer, single and without kids. It is difficult for her, born under Castro’s socialism, to imagine a Cuba without the “blockade.” She asks herself if, with the money the “blockade” costs Cuba in week, they would be able, like it says on the billboards, to buy 48 locomotives or the materials for a complete school course. She rapidly comes to a conclusion. “If that is the reason for our hardships, it should disappear.”
Since she was a little girl, the “blockade” has been to blame for all of her misfortunes. Her parents separated due to ideological differences. Her father has lived in the United States for 15 years. She is happy that they have lifted the travel restrictions for the Cuban residents in this country. Soon she will go back to see him.
Nevertheless, she can’t communicate with him like she wants by e-mail: the US government doesn’t permit Cuba to connect to the fiber optic cable that runs along the island. It is then, when she reflects, that she ask herself:
What would happen if the United States decided to eliminate the commercial embargo against the island? Could the Cuban government ask and obtain credit? Because economies more developed than ours is collapsed due to the current financial crisis.
Without the “blockade,” would we get out of economic stagnation and in the near future would Cubans be able to satisfy their current needs? Would Cuba have the necessary economic capacity to increase salaries, improve health care, construct more homes, increase public transport, and have recreation for the population?
When the “blockade” doesn’t exist, what justification will there be for maintaining the restrictions on citizen’s rights and hijacking liberties? The situation today isn’t the same as it was 20 years ago. The social problems that have accumulated in two decades are too much.
Will the frustrations that cause thousands of Cubans to use drugs and alcohol disappear? Will they stop prostituting themselves with the young tourists of both sexes? Will the pickpockets in the streets, the robberies in people’s homes and in workplaces disappear? Will the illegal acts, the workplace absences, the bribery and corruption, among other bad things fade away? Will Cubans be allowed to legally or illegally leave the country? Will the million and a half Cubans spread throughout the world be able to return?
Marta doesn’t know how much time the government would need to resolve all of these problems once the “blockade” is lifted. She thinks that the disappearance of the embargo by itself won’t imply the immediate solving of these problems. But if something is worn-out, the argument is that nothing can be fixed due to the “genocidal blockade.”
She wants to have a future. To marry and have a family. But the 425 pesos that she earns doesn’t permit her to realize her dreams. She wants a change. And to achieve it, somehow she has to take the initiative.
Photo: Robin Thom, Flickr.
Translated by Bill Wingrove