Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ticket to (Another) Paradise / Ernesto Morales Licea

Ticket to (Another) Paradise / Ernesto Morales Licea
Ernesto Morales Licea, Translator: Angelica Morales

The landing gear descended and, as vertiginous as it is, rushed his body
into the daylight. Hanging upside down, cut by irons and cables, semi
naked, the torso of a Cuban greeted Barajas' airport with his halo of
death and desperation. That torso was only 23 years old.

Nobody likes the word: desperation is an alarmist term. But let's see,
how many world citizens, honestly, how many unhappy and disappointed,
would be willing to emulate Cubans in the methods employed to escape
their earthly paradise?

Not many. Not to be absolute. The East Germans who offer their bodies to
the barbed wires, landmines, and the aim of snipers don't exist today.
Desperate fugitives who flee in the middle of snow storms, who die
frozen among the snow, escaping comrade Stalin's paradise don't exist today.

What exists are Cubans, yes. A new race of fugitives that are setting
records in the ancient art of evasion.

Some say: Central Americans also emigrate. True. They jump on frenetic
trains, they tie themselves to its roof tops, at the mercy of wild gangs
and bandit cops, at the mercy of bad weather and losing their legs under
the wheels of the iron.

Yes, they emigrate from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, to the United
States. To the country that — whether liberal friends around the world
like it or not — is still the oasis of opportunities that offers a
blanket to the lawn mowing emigrant, just as to the parents of
Facebook's inventor.

Some say: Haitians also emigrate. And they also do so in flimsy rafts,
food for sharks. Where do they emigrate to? To the same place as Central
Americans. To the most vilified and envied country of the world.

But neither Mexicans, nor Salvadorans, nor Guatemalans, nor Haitians,
emigrate to anywhere. We, the homus andantis from Fidel's paradise, the
children of the new Motherland, demand much less: barely a different
country than the one where we had to live. The demand is just another
country of the orb. Only that. It doesn't matter if it is Finland,
Ukraine, or South Africa. What matters is that it is not ours.

For that, Cubans put their brains in gear. The build floating monsters,
amphibian Chevrolets, they put together tires and planks, they hang
anti-shark diesel in the corners, and head out to sea.

They take over a Peruvian embassy by force, inside its walls ten
thousand sweaty, thirsty, malnourished, hopeless souls seclude
themselves. Waiting for a ticket to freedom.

White flesh and black flesh meet, proud mulata nationals with Italians
with bad breath, adolescents of recently developed breasts with
Spaniards who take Viagra; they swallow up their modesty and nausea, and
they marry in the Island with a metallic love.

They serve as archivists: they dig, dig, dig, they ask, they photocopy,
they print, they solicit Spanish citizenship and bless the grandfather
who had the wit to be born in the Motherland a century and a half ago.

They populate half the world, a Cuban today, ten tomorrow, they flood
Ecuador with their cracked dreams, and although pursued illegals, they
prefer a very poor nation like that at meridian zero, before their big
tropical island.

Today, one appears in the news: I will jump into the void from my window
if you try to deport me to Cuba. Another one appears tomorrow: frozen,
shredded, his bones cracked by the undercarriage of an airplane that
doesn't care about misfortunes nor the anxiety of freedom.

How horrible, how disheartening, what a bitter paradise have they built
on the Island that watched our births. God. When our country's History
gets written some day, the History behind this story of tyrants and
victims, of deserters who die horrendous deaths; that day we will lack
many siblings: drowned, crushed, shot by Mexican coyotes, chewed up by
sharks' jaws, beaten up in Panamanian jails, killed by the cold weather
or by hunger halfway along their journey.

Those, I would like to think, are resting somewhere else: in the
Paradise reserved for the victims of our insular paradise.

Translated by: Angelica Morales

July 18 2011

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