Daniel Wizenberg

Daniel Wizenberg

The World Cup trophy during the FIFA Congress just before the Championship’s inauguration in Moscow, Wednesday June 13, 2018. Photo: Pavel Golovkin / AP.

Four reasons why this World Championship was political

Money and Passports While European countries are closing the door to hundreds of thousands of refugees and letting many of them drown in the Mediterranean, its soccer federations are taking advantage of the immigration. 24 of the 32 teams had foreigners in their ranks. Switzerland has several Albanian players in its team: Xhaka, Shaquiri, Behrami and Dzemaili. The country with the most complex migration laws in the world has a total of 13 nationalized players in its team, more than any other team in this Championship. In addition to the Albanians there are Mvogo, Embolo, Moubandje and Oberlín from Cameroon; Fernandes from Cape Verde; and Djourou from Ivory Coast. The British team listens to the national anthem before playing against Sweden in the quarter finals of the World Championship, in Samara, Russia. Photo: Matthias Schrader / AP. In France Mandanda is from Zaire and Umtiti from Cameroon. Lemar is French but from the “overseas” territories: he was born in Guadeloupe. In Spain Diego Costa and Rodrigo are Brazilian. Like Fernándes, the Russian defense, and Pepe, the Portuguese defense. In Portugal there are also Martins from Cape Verde and Carvalho from Angola. Sterling, the British 10, is Jamaican. In almost all...

Cubans in Nuevo Laredo. Photo: Irina Dambrauskas.

Miami is a dream in images

They sold everything, from their camera to their house. There isn’t even enough money left to buy a cell phone that takes good pictures. When they tried to see each other through a video call they ran into the technological limits of their phones. Ileana and Roberto are separated, they look like images. It’s a fresh and sunny day in the capital of Florida, where many of those who already arrived live. She has the day off and she still hasn’t seen the sun. He calls her from the border for the fifth time that day. It’s to tell her that some Cubans were almost kidnapped when they went on their own to a hotel but that he’s OK. He also tells her that he’s very afraid because he’s also in a hotel, alone: he left the shelter because sleeping on the gym’s floor did not help him get rid of a bronchitis from which he had been suffering for a few weeks. They hang up. She looks at the floor, presses her lips together, uses them as a dike to keep out her bitterness: “He is so intelligent, so skillful, he knows how to do so many things, he...

The imaginary dividing line between the United States and Latin America. The first thing you see on the north side is someone looking through the garbage. On the south side, a beggar. Photo: Irina Dambrauskas.

Cubans on the border: nine last minute headlines

There are already more than 500 Cubans stranded in the city of Nuevo Laredo, the border between Mexico and the United States. Every minute that goes by the uncertainty increases their anxiety. OnCuba has sent correspondents to the place and is permanently in contact with several of the Cubans concentrated there. There are already 500 Cubans stranded in the city of Nuevo Laredo. Photo: Irina Dambrauskas. We have put together 9 last minute items to understand the situation of these hundreds of persons who have left Cuba with the dry foot, wet foot policy in force but who on their way found out it was annulled – the majority illegally crossed borders to reach the United States: 1- A baby girl is born OnCuba had already advanced that among the stranded there was a women who was 7½ months pregnant. As a result of the stress and the conditions in which she was living the pregnancy, she gave birth before she was due. Both of the baby’s parents have asked for anonymity on behalf of the family. When the contractions started she was on the corner of the Gateway of the Americas (that’s the routine of the Cubans on the...

Many made the journey through Latin America with their children. Photo: Irina Dambrauskas.

A venue of defeat

Almost all those who are in Nuevo Laredo have a visa they got in the south of Mexico to remain 20 days in the country. On January 13 Mexico gave the last safe-conduct: on February 3 the Cubans will serve Peña Nieto – who doesn’t want one more front of conflict with Trump – the deportation on a platter. Carlos Alberto is 40 years old and is from Sancti Spíritus. In the Panamanian jungle he survived on some cans of sardine and tuna he bought in Colombia, he slept on the ground on the banks of rivers, he was guided on his walk following the signs left by the Cubans who had already passed through there. In the jungle he saw bodies thrown at the side of paths. He took days to cross the Darien Doughnut. So far he has spent 9,000 dollars. The Nuevo Laredo street that comes out to International Bridge No. 1. Photo: Irina Dambrauskas. On the border between Mexico and Guatemala those who wanted, like Carlos Alberto, to obtain the safe-conduct without having to pay for a lawyer had to spend some days in a prison for migrants. Photo: Irina Dambrauskas. More than half of the...

Dry foot, Cuban foot...Photo: Irina Dambrauskas

Mexican Little Havana

Nowadays there are at least 300 Cubans in Nuevo Laredo. And every day there are more. They were all on the road when Obama changed the rules of the game. Almost 100 of them who were in Tapachula – border between Mexico and Guatemala – were deported and there are rumors that something similar could happen with those who are in Turbo, Colombia. Those who have already surpassed that barrier continue on the road to the border, which for the time being is not showing signs of deportation or of opening up to the north. Carlos has to his name 19 failed attempts to enter the United States. Photo: Irina Dambrauskas. Eight out of every 10 Cuban migrants in Nuevo Laredo are men. A few brought their children, those who did so made shorter trips: from Havana they flew directly to some Mexican city and from there to the border. There’s a woman who is about to give birth, she would have gotten pregnant during the journey but she doesn’t want to talk about that. Once at the border the Cubans chose the AMAR shelter because of it is big and because by January 12 there were only a few...

Photo: Irina Dambrauskas

Cuba was missing

Riddled with small ID cards. That’s the face of the inside of the door of the Casa del Migrante Nazareth, a shelter belonging to the Catholic Church in Nuevo Laredo. José Perez: Coyote. Juan Fernández: use of the cell phone. Miguel López: refused to wash up…photo, name, surname and reason why each guy who knocks should not be let in. The rules of the house are very strict. One of the latest regulations incorporated is that each migrant hand over his/her cell phone when entering: it will be given back when they leave. The priests who are at the head of the Casa adopted that measure after “The Zetas” – as the transnational mafia born in that same province is known – started to kidnap illegal immigrants using, it is believed, the complicity of someone staying in the Casa del Migrante. The Casa Nazareth, headed by Father Marcos, mainly shelters Hondurans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Mexicans who were deported by the United States and, now, Cubans. *** David. Photo: Irina Dambrauskas Ofelia (32) and David (33) have been in the Casa for some weeks, they resolved to leave Guatemala when a gang from El Progreso, their city of birth to the north...

Photo: Irina Dambrauskas.

Cuban prayer on the border

None of the almost 150 Cubans stranded today, Friday January 20, in Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican city bordering with the United States, saw Donald Trump’s inauguration speech. Most of the migrants crowded – as they aim to do the entire day every day until something changes – in the last corner of the city in front of Bridge 1 over the Rio Grande, through which pedestrians cross to the United States. Photo: Irina Dambrauskas. They were all waiting for novelties from Trump on their cell phones: - My wife tells me that Trump said nothing about the Cubans, bro – César, a 45-year-old Havanan who sold his home and his motorcycle to buy a plane ticket to Ecuador, where his journey started, commented to someone. - We risked our lives in order to be free, Donald Trump will surely reflect - Carlos Ariel, from Sancti Spíritus, answered with the intention of cheering him up. Photo: Irina Dambrauskas. They all lived with disappointment the news arriving from Washington: they amazingly expected that in his inauguration the new U.S. president would have a hidden message for those who arrived late to the “wet foot, dry foot” policy. Most of them are betting...