Even though the crossing is complicated, involving excessive risks to their lives, and leaving them at the mercy of “coyotes”, not to mention the high economic costs and the possibility of being deported, Arlyn and Angel left Cuba on the weekend of June 11-12, “without looking back.”
According to the US Office of Customs and Border Protection, between October 2021 and April 2022 nearly 115,000 Cubans have arrived at the US southern border via the Central American route that Arlyn and Angel are following. That number is now approaching the scale of the largest migration wave in recent Cuban history: the 125,000 who left during the “Mariel sea exodus” in 1980.
Fear “won’t stop us”
“We’re fearful. We’ve sold everything, they could deport us, and there are even stories of people who’ve been killed. The best thing is not to think too much about those things,” Arlyn commented. Thirty years old, with a university degree in accounting, she previously worked as a cashier at a private coffee shop in Old Havana.
Angel, her partner, is 27, and worked in a cigar factory. He never thought about leaving, but “a series of things” led them to make that decision. “We were both hospitalized for Covid-19 and food began becoming scarce,” he noted.
“We want to have children. So, we thought: ‘How are we going to feed our children without that stress of where to obtain food and what meal to invent?’”
Angel is now determined to reach their goal, in the face of the “lack of hope” in Cuba. He underscored the fact they’ve borrowed thousands of dollars from their relatives in the US, and he’s conscious of the “uncertainty of not knowing if we’ll get there. But no one can stop us,” he added.