Thursday, June 25, 2015

Even the Elderly Are Emigrating From Cuba

Even the Elderly Are Emigrating From Cuba
YOANI SÁNCHEZ, Havana | Junio 24, 2015

The building where I live is like a diminutive Cuba, where the larger
country appears represented with its vicissitudes and hopes. Fourteen
stories that at times offer a biopsy of reality or a representative
fragment of life outside. For years, the emigration of young people has
marked the life of this ugly concrete block, constructed 30 years ago by
some optimistic microbrigadistas* in order to put a roof over their
children's heads. The majority of these children, now men and women, do
not live on the island today. However, the exodus has also spread to a
worrying extent among those of the third age.

A few weeks ago in the hallway I stumbled upon a neighbor whose children
left some time ago for the country to the north. Between postcards at
Christmas, visits every now and then and nostalgia, the family has tried
to overcome separation and the pain of absence. The man of the family,
now retired and almost 70, commented to me that he was selling his
apartment. "I'm leaving," he said, smiling from ear to ear. Another
retiree who overheard, spat out derisively, "You're nuts! Why are you
leaving if all that's left to you are 'two shaves,'?" alluding to the
possible brevity of the existence ahead of him.

Not to be outdone, the mocked one replied, "Yes, it's true, all that's
left for me is 'two shaves,' but I want them to be with a Gillette."
With a pension of barely 20 CUC a month, a home that every day shows the
passage of time and the lack of resources to repair it, the future
emigrant won't be stopped by gray hairs or old age. What is making so
many seniors choose to relocate abroad despite age, health and the
uprooting of their lives? They also feel the lack of opportunities, the
day-to-day difficulties, and -- most significantly -- end up concluding
that the social project to which they gave their youth has defrauded and
abandoned them.

"All I want is a peaceful old age, without having to stand in line all
the time," the determined old man explained to me. For him, his country
is synonymous with shortages, problems getting food, an old age of
racing to get potatoes and fighting against those who want to get ahead
of him in the line to buy eggs. The apartment he built with his own
hands for the enjoyment of his children now has peeling walls and a
clogged toilet. "With my pension I can't arrange to get things fixed,"
he detailed.

Even the elderly are packing their suitcases on this island... and from
the scale model that is this Yugoslav-style building, old people are
also saying goodbye.

Source: Even the Elderly Are Emigrating From Cuba -

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