…and the sea is now no more. Revelations 21:1
The response to the material nightmare that was buried in the spiritual collapse and in large measure the political and ideological collapse, was the mass escape at the risk of any mishap and even death.
The sea was open defiance, the horizon was the choice of the American dream and who denies that the American dream has always been one of the escape routes most used by Cubans, historically and paradoxically our natures have sought refuge in the shelter of the “monster of the North,” sometimes for political reasons and at others to for economic aspirations; the big neighbor for one reason or another has always opened its doors and provided facilities to those born on the island.
One of these is the famous Cuban Adjustment Act, which encourages with the shelter of the law the escape from the bowels of the known monster, and those Cubans who prefer to try their luck have no room for the refrain better the evil you know than the evil you don’t, because however evil the sea to the north it, it will never be like the one we know.
Thus in the nineties thousands of Cubans took to the waters. I know many who survived the dangerous journey, now living on U.S. soil, but others were trapped, the American dream vanished in the Straits of Florida, it sank like the boat that capsized.
As natives of an island, Cubans have much in common with the sea, from their tanned complexion, food, beaches, the joy of living, to the nostalgia of those who left and the pain of those who died crossing these ninety dividing miles.
But above all the sea is a symbol of freedom for those who have managed to cross the border and may be a symbol of imprisonment for those who stay at home with the latent inability to travel and know new routes. The sea separates us all and locks the invisible bars that surround our Cuba.
The material scarcity but also the spiritual oppression, the hunger to live as human beings, to maximize his youth, to grasp every opportunity that life offers, in 1994 made my friend Frank was launched himself, along with his brother and two young men, on a raft into the sea. Young people prefer to put aside their fears and risk conquering their dreams.
Frank didn’t make it to the United States, his brother did and this became a permanently open wound for him. In a way this post is a tribute to Frank and the thousands of men and women of this country who lost their lives, a tribute to the rafters, who arrived and who did not. In both cases they escaped the bars.
The past is hard, so is the present. And although the Cuban leaders strive to show a world just and full of virtues, a system whose priority is mankind, with advances in health, education and culture, a significant number of Cubans still choose to migrate in some way, legal or illegal, anything to escape this wall that is imposed on us.
The sea remains the symbol of nostalgia for those who left, the path to freedom and progress, the discovery of the unknown; but also for the majority it continues to symbolize the element that isolates us and locks us in. Somehow we have to conquer the sea and with it the freedom that they have usurped.
11 March 2012