Monday, January 30, 2017

Cubans Dismiss Obama as Persona Non Grata

Cubans Dismiss Obama as Persona Non Grata / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 19 January 2017 — As if by magic, the irreverent and
prosaic Donald Trump is the man of the hour for Cubans who have plans to
emigrate. "He's the guy; there's no one else. If he orders it, the
United States will open its doors," says Miguel, emphatically, while he
drives a ramshackle collective taxi down Infanta Avenue.

His comment intensifies the polemic of five passengers who shout above
the odor of gasoline that filters through the old car's patched-up
exhaust pipe and the unbearably loud music.

"Obama is a real son-of-a-bitch. If Cubans allow their Government to
step all over them it's because they have the possibility of hauling ass
out of Cuba. Tell me who here doesn't have a family member in the
States?" asks a corpulent mulatto.

Everyone wants to talk at once and give their opinion on the subject.
Some analyses are puerile; others border on political science fiction,
like that of Magda, a primary school teacher, who, from the back seat of
the taxi, advises Trump to "accept all the Cubans who want to leave.
Most will work at anything. You think there isn't space in the U.S. for
11 million Cubans?" she says, and the other passengers smile.

Right now, the fashionable subject in Havana is the repeal of the wet
foot-dry foot policy. A collection of sad, crushed people react to the
announcement as if they received a direct blow to the chin by a heavyweight.

"Listen, brother, I sold my house to go to Guyana. My plan was to cross
the Mexican border and enter the U.S. Now it's impossible. But I'm going
to get out anyway I can. Even through Haiti, I'm telling you," says Jean
Carlos, a veterinarian.

At Christmas time, Diego flew to Uruguay with his wife to travel to
Laredo and cross the border into El Paso. "I'm devastated. I didn't
leave with much money. Now I'll look for a job in Uruguay and see later
where to go. But I'm not returning to Cuba. I have nothing there. I sold
everything. If I'm going to start all over let it be in any other
country," he says by Internet.

The same thing happened to Yosvani and his wife, Mildred. The couple
flew to Rome in November, on a tourist package. With a one-month visa
they crossed the border and settled in Spain.

"Here we're together with a group of illegal Cubans. My wife found a job
taking care of an old man. I worked for a week cleaning a bar, but the
owner paid me only four euros. My mother already sold my apartment in
Havana and sent me the money that I wanted to use to go to Cancun,
Mexico. But now with this news I have to stay here. My hope is that
Trump will reverse the measures that Obama approved," he says, through
Instant Messenger.

The new panorama, presumably, will not put the brakes on those who have
plans to emigrate. "It can change everything. But then people will try
their luck in another country or will come to the U.S. through marriage
or by other tricks. I have my eye on Panama. I liked the city and the
people when I went to buy junk to sell in Havana. The one place I can't
be is Cuba. You can't do anything here. You can't move. The last person
who leaves, please turn off the lights in El Morro," (the castle
fortress at the entrance to Havana Bay) confesses Maikel in a wifi park
in Vedado.

Even those who have relatives in the U.S. don't think they have enough
patience to get there by family reunification. "My father has been in
Miami for five months and is already working. When he has his residence
papers he's going to claim me. But how long will all this paperwork
take? Three, four years can go by. If I can, I'll leave before. Here in
Cuba I have no future," comments Germán, a university student.

Obama has passed from being a hero to being a villain. From that
president, who 10 months ago in Havana gave a memorable speech, saying
that Cuba should change and bet on democracy, to being persona non grata.

It's the opposite with Donald Trump. The Cuban who drinks only coffee
for breakfast, indoctrinated by the international press, always saw the
wealthy New York businessman as an extravagant weirdo. A rich guy who by
pure caprice got into the world of politics.

"The guy's a time bomb. When he explodes, no one knows what's going to
happen. Trump thinks that politics is a reality show. It would be a
miracle if in the next four years the world equilibrium doesn't change.
He's poorly educated, an egomaniac with the soul of a tyrant; and
thousands of Cubans who are thinking of emigrating are placing their
faith in him," says Norge, a political science graduate.

Like in an Agatha Christie crime novel or a suspense film, the roles
have been reversed. Goodbye Barack Trump. Welcome Donald Obama. The
world has been turned upside down, and not only for Cuban emigrants.

Translated by Regina Anavy

Source: Cubans Dismiss Obama as Persona Non Grata / Iván García –
Translating Cuba -

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