I have recently noted an avalanche of young Cubans who have exchanged the island for Miami’s beaches and nightlife. Precisely now that Cuba has begun to take small but sure steps toward an economic opening, which could well provide a bevy of opportunities. This beautiful island, with its security and potential, is what many young people are leaving behind. They prefer Miami.
A few days ago, a friend told me, shortly after arriving in Miami, that she never thought she would run into so many university friends here. Another friend, in Havana, commented that she had been left alone, that all her friends now live in Miami.
Years back, those who decided to emigrate, condemning themselves to a long, tendentious exile, made the decision based on political and ideological differences with the Cuban government. They left the country in search of freedom… Leaving the country, for many, was equivalent to acquiring a one way ticket, a route which implied losing not only your house and objects of sentimental value, but your friends as well, and even some resigned or domesticated family member.
The recognition of the freedom to travel and the right to emigrate, without being booed or thrashed (Mariel), has facilitated this new, private exodus of young Cubans in search of economic improvement, personal development, a green card…
On the other hand, the number of people who have decided to repatriate has increased as well, among them renowned artists from the Cuban diaspora. It appears that being from one side or the other is more natural, more harmonious.
It is evident today that the main reason to emigrate from Cuba is not disagreement with the government. In Cuba, there is liberty and there are liberties, perhaps not to the degree that some Cubans might like, or according to the model of other democratic countries, but they exist. A quantitative leap is being taken in the minds and hearts of Cubans. Legal and psychological barriers which kept the country stalemated are being lifted.
Clearly, the opportunity to travel is not within the means of all, and this is lamentable, but little by little, the path is being opened.
Young people who emigrate, Cuban-Americans who return, and others – like me – who for the moment alternate between the two cities… Good enough, things are changing.