Inscribed on the hypothalamus

After five attempts to leave illegally, Carlos has found a path without the danger of sharks and sunstroke.  One leaves Cuba through one of the few countries that still don’t demand a visa from my compatriots. By this same route, thousands of young have left in these last months, after coming to understand that the announced process of “changes” has been another instance of the powers that be pulling our legs. The recidivist rafter is over thirty and has spent at least a third of his life with his eyes focused on the far shore. If everything goes well, he will be looking at the Island from a distance within a couple of months.

Every year I find myself in the sad situation of remaking my group of friends because, as Wendy Guerra says, “Everyone’s left.” Even those who planned to grow old in this land or who had some economic advantage that allowed them to live comfortably. Even a friend who seemed—like me—to intend to light up El Morro once everyone had left and let it go out, has told us he’s leaving. He came to the house yesterday and in a whisper, as if he were afraid the apartment was full of microphones, told us, “I can’t take it any more.” The phrase I’ve heard so much it’s become commonplace in our conversations.

He is another who leaves despite a good apartment, a job that pays well, an intense public life. He made the decision to emigrate for reasons very different from those of Carlos, but both agree they don’t want their children to be born in Cuba. Meanwhile, one lives in the falling down house of his grandmother, the other sleeps each night with the air conditioner set to 20 degrees Celsius. Their conditions of life are so different and their aspirations so similar that I can only think the imperative to emigrate comes from the hypothalamus. It’s like a pull that comes from within, a call to the instinct for self-preservation that tells us, “Save yourselves, get out of here.”


9 thoughts on “Inscribed on the hypothalamus

  1. The problem of Cuba as only it is solved is that all the Cubans of the island have citizenship of the USA by birth and the laws of the USA command in Cuba.
    It is not possible to be spoken and nothing is solved of a future Cuba from the base of inequality, discrimination, privileges.
    As is that base of inequality, discrimination and privileges?
    Cuban with citizenship of the USA and Cuban noncitizen of the USA.
    IN God we trust.
    Partidaria que todos los Cubanos sean ciudadanos de USA.
    Partidaria que Cuba tenga el mismo estatus que tiene Puerto Rico.

  2. When change comes to Cuba (it’s not a question of if, but when), it will come from those who have chosen to stay rather than leave. That’s been the experience of every country that has managed to overthrow Marxist-Leninist style totalitarianism.

    Having said that, those who leave should not be criticized for making what I’m sure is an agonizing decision. Yoani’s empathy (and lament) for those who make this choice practically leaps off the page.

  3. Hey I was wondering if you will ever try to leave Cuba. I would also like to know if you believe that communism will end in Cuba soon or if it will take a long time to end, if ever. If you would like towrite me back please visit my blogs. I would also like to know if you have read Waiting for Snow in Havana. I’m guessing you haven’t because its against Cuban law,but I’m not suresince there is an ebook. Please write backand you bloggis very inspirational.

  4. Further to the Roque/Lage video, the International Herald Tribune English Language translation of the Spanish EL PAIS has an interesting piece at the bottom of page 3 of the Thursday 28th edition (today, as I write – the website has no archive): . The videos were made by a high-ranking apparatchik at parties at his opulent ranch at Matanzas, near Havana. We may assume that Conrado Hernandez didn’t risk life imprisonment for butchering a cow and he was also a representative of the Basque government, through the SPRI. Cuban agents allowed him free access to the heavily guarded Spanish embassy in Havana. As is common for Castro’s aristocracy, his daughter has been allowed to settle semi-permanently in Spain (EL PAIS ran a feature on this “colony” a few years ago). He was arrested on Feb 14th as he was about board a flight to Bilbao – nobody knows why. The various sacked officials were filmed “slamming” Raul and joking about the health of Fidel. A huge mystery remains, concerning Conrado’s true status. Single, double, or even triple agent?


    Despues de 50 años de cruel y nefasta dictadura, en donde leyes impuestas por el regimen Castrista han privado a los cubanos de los mas elementales derechos humanos como la libertad de expresion, sin medios para protestar y en medio de una BRUTAL represion; los Cubanos en el Exilio, unidos por el INTERNET y en nombre del Pueblo Cubano que no puede opinar ni manifestarse abiertamente, han decidido realizar un llamamiento general a todos los Internautas , a los medios de difusión y al Mundo en General para que exijan a la Dictadura Castrofamiliar que desgobierna en nuestro país y al cual tiene sumido en la más profunda miseria espiritual, humana y material lo siguiente:
    De igual forma pedimos a todos los medios de Prensa, Radio, y Televisión informen realmente al Mundo sobre la cruel realidad que vive hoy el Pueblo Cubano.

    Favor amigos traducir este documento y distribuir por internet

  6. Hello there. On a side note I would like to know what is known among Cubans in Cuba about Elian Gonzalez. I have thought about him often since he was forced to return to Cuba.
    Anything you might know and can share would be appreciated.

  7. Al:

    Cuban people already did reach that “point”- almost-, but the problem is that the repression is so cruel that you can translate the yelling as , exiting the country, escaping, etc.

    Really, really, if you do a survey among the Cubans, I would say that more than 85 % of the population would do anything to be able to leave Cuba, does matter where, just they want to be out of Cuba, it is very sad, but is the reality.

    Those young people, like Yoanis, are very brave, and they are risking their life every day, but Castro’s regime will not be brought down just writing or publishing denounces!!!!!

    Nobody wants to be a martyr or nobody has Apostle flesh !!! that is the reality.


  8. Dear Yoani,

    A-propos of this essay I would like to recommend Yoani to watch an old movie called “Network”, where one of the characters screams on the air, on TV:
    “…I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore !!…”

    My translation of that phrase into “cuban” would be thus:

    “…Yo ya estoy mas que cabron y no voy a aguantar esto mas !!…”.
    I hope the cuban people some day finally reaches that level of disgust for the castro regime.

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