The silent Mariel (opinion of Wendy Guerra)

Publisher’s note: Wendy Guerra is a French-Cuban writer and a contributor to CNN en Español. Her articles have appeared in media around the world, such as El País, The New York Times, the Miami Herald, El Mundo and La Vanguardia. Among her most outstanding literary works are “Underwear” (2007), “I was never the first lady” (2008), “Posing naked in Havana” (2010) and “Everyone leaves” (2014). Her work has been published in 23 languages. The comments expressed in this column belong exclusively to the author. See more at

(CNN Spanish) — In Cuba, when it seems that everything is over, that the acts of repudiation, the persecution of artists and intellectuals, the segregation of homosexuals, the fuel crisis and the exodus by sea are matters of the past. When everything seems to indicate that we are entering the so-called “error restructuring process”, everything explodes and the horrors are repeated.

It is always a one-off event, the unfortunate handling of an event that precedes the big stampede.

In my country, the suffocation cycles last approximately ten to fifteen years, and with them, the wave of protests, the repression and the escape mechanism, articulate the dramaturgy of goodbye.

Camarioca, 1965

In 1965, when the expedition of exiled Cubans to Playa Girón in 1961 had already failed, the anecdotes of the Escambray rebels who were killed and later re-concentrated in the north of the country became known. The so-called “captive peoples” of Sandino, López Peña and Antonio Briones Montoto, in Pinar del Río, created discouragement in those who put all their hopes in staying on the island waiting for a possible change in the system. The missile crisis created a focus, a magnifying glass on the tense relationship between the USSR, Cuba and the United States. Basic necessities were becoming scarce. The nationalization of companies that began in 1960 was already being noticed, and working for personal and family progress was no longer an option, it was imperative. From now on, any effort would be in pursuit of the collective and the “first person singular” began to dissolve into “we”. In the heat of these events, on September 28, 1965, in one of his extensive speeches, Fidel Castro announced that the port of Camarioca, near the Varadero resort, would be open to those who preferred to leave the country. Then the first large mass exodus authorized by the Cuban government takes place. According to statistics from the Cuban Research Center of the Florida International University (CRI), from December 1965 to April 1973, between the closure of the port of Camarioca and the end of the airlift, 260,600 people left Cuba to settle in the United States. USA

The Mariel, 1980

In April 1980, five years after the First Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, the only party that still governs the island, the repression and excessive surveillance created a climate of popular discontent, which, combined with the profound deficiencies we were experiencing, unleashed a irreversible mass flight claim. Against all odds, thousands of people jumped over the wall and occupied the 2,000 meters of gardens of the Embassy of Peru, a mansion located in the elegant Miramar area of ​​the Cuban capital. The claim of the approximately 10,800 Cubans who intervened in the Peruvian embassy was that they be provided with the legal channels to leave for the United States. The Cuban Government, perceiving the dimension of the matter, authorized the departure through the port of Mariel to those who They wanted to leave the national territory. For the transportation of the so-called “worms”, “softies” and deserters of the revolution, the boats of the relatives -some of them already converted into US citizens- were authorized to travel to the island to pick up their loved ones and drive them , finally, towards the coasts of Florida. In the boats of the families, the Government took the opportunity to put chronic psychiatric patients, and common prisoners, many of them without close contacts in the country of destination. It is estimated that some 125,000 Cubans emigrated to the US in that exodus.

The rafters’ crisis, 1994

Several Cubans, including children, on a raft on Aug. 31, 1994. (DOUG COLLIER/AFP via Getty Images)

On July 13, 1994, in the middle of the “Special Period”, a stage of great sacrifices for the people, profound shortages and constant blackouts, five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the so-called socialist camp, the Cuban authorities They order the sinking, with powerful jets of water, a tugboat with 72 civilians on board, including children and women, located 7 miles from Havana who were preparing to escape from the island. The tug sank and 41 people died in that wreck, including 10 minors. That same summer, 30,900 Cubans boarded all kinds of boats, rustic or not, to try to reach the United States.

the fourth exodus

According to official statistics, in 2015 more than 40,000 Cubans arrived in the United States from Cuba. The press gave this phenomenon the name “the fourth exodus”.

The silent Mariel

After the protests of July 11, 2021, surveillance, acts of repudiation, violence in the streets and constant harassment by State Security of those who demonstrate against what they consider to be unfair actions by the current government intensified. . Express trials and the disappearance, even of minors, returned, and those long sentences returned to political prisoners treated as common prisoners.

The blackouts, the shortages and the ineffectiveness of a government that does not look towards those who cannot buy the little food that exists in the country, sold in a currency that the people do not earn, that, to eat, wash, wash, pay the service of liquefied gas or electricity must change: 100 Cuban pesos for US$ 1.

It is precisely the women, the blacks, the workers, in short, the minorities, who are the most affected in Cuba. “The humble and for the humble”, of whom Fidel Castro Ruz spoke in his speech on April 16, 1961, today seem to be the great forgotten of this history.

During my adolescence I had a great dream, to write, act, study at the Film School, create fictional stories and publish them. Currently, the vast majority of young Cubans have a great dream: to leave the country. Each one of these boys investigates, searches for information, trying to create his personal route to the United States. They exchange the telephone numbers of Mexican, Salvadoran or Nicaraguan coyotes with each other and establish communication codes with code phrases and trendy songs, which, in reality, announce the arrival of many, and the danger of others, during the journey through the streets. borders. The people have called this phenomenon: the silent Mariel.

It is not just young people who sell everything and pay from US$3,000 to US$10,500, and even a little more, to hire the services of a coyote to help them cross the border through Nicaragua, from Colombia, El Salvador or directly through Mexico, all this includes, depending on the rate, taxis, plane tickets, experienced guides, protection in the desert and even hotels to rest during the journey. Middle-aged and elderly Cubans are also gambling what they have, and more, to reunite with their relatives in exile. In this 2022, until May, 140,602 Cubans have arrived in the United States. It’s official, the number of people fleeing the island and entering the United States through the borders absolutely exceeds all stampedes in six decades. We are facing another Mariel.

Beyond the problems of food, public health, fuel, transportation and housing that we Cubans have suffered and endured for decades, even beyond the consequences of the US embargo on the island, which hits Cuban women the hardest today and Cubans is the internal blockade, the impossibility of expressing opinions, arguing and protesting in order to change their own reality, the certainty that the country does not belong to us, but above all, the indolence, the lack of empathy and the heartless way in which today they use the full force of their repressive apparatus against an unarmed people, a people that has given everything for nothing.

When reviewing the Twitter account of the current president of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, in the midst of the desperation of a summer full of blackouts, landslides and shortages, we notice that he is busy, more than finding practical solutions to the internal tragedy, in spreading slogans and anniversaries that allude to the past: “Good morning, #Cuba. It is a date of patriotic and revolutionary resonances. Day of remembrance and tribute to “#MaceoYCHe, whose exemplary lives always inspire us”. For his part, his wife, Lis Cuesta, on this same social network, calls President Díaz-Canel “the dictator of my heart” and proclaims herself “owner of the mango,” referring to the president of the nation.

After analyzing all these critical processes that the Cuban people went through from 1959 to 2022, I ask myself:

How many more crises and exiles can the people of Cuba endure?

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