El Sexto has said he will paint a graffiti on my suitcase; a neighbor gave me an amulet for the journey, and a certain friend noted his shoe size so I can bring him a pair. They said goodbye to me although I still haven’t left. I don’t even have a flight date. But something has changed for me since January 14 when the Migratory Reform announced last October went into effect. After waiting 24 hours outside the Department of Immigration and Aliens (DIE) I knew that finally they would issue me a new passport. With twenty “white cards” – the former exit permit – denied in five years, I confess I was more skeptical than hopeful. Even now, I will only believe I made it when I watch the plane lift off from inside.
It has been a long battle fought by many. A very long road of demanding that entering and leaving our country is an inalienable right, not a gift to be given. Although the flexibilizations in Decree-Law 302 are insufficient, not even these would have been achieved if we’d stood around with our arms crossed. They are not the fruit of a magnanimous gesture, but the result of systematic denunciations made against the absurdities of travel and immigration.
Hence my intention to continue “pushing the limits” of reform, to experience first hand how far the willingness to change really goes. To transcend national frontiers I will make no concessions. If the Yoani Sánchez that I am cannot travel, I am not going to metamorphose myself into someone else to do it. Nor, once abroad, will I disguise my opinions so they will let me “leave again” or to please certain ears, nor will I take refuge in silence about that for which they can refuse to let me return. I will say what I think of my country and of the absence of freedoms we Cubans suffer. No passport will function as a gag for me, no trip as bait.
These particulars clarified, I am preparing the itinerary for my stay outside of Cuba. I hope to be able to participate in numerous events that will help me grow professionally and civically, to answer questions, to clarify details of the smear campaigns that have been launched against me… and in my absence. I will visit those places that once invited me, when the will of a few wouldn’t let me come; I will navigate the Internet like one obsessed, and once again climb mountains I haven’t seen for nearly ten years. But what I am most passionate about is that I am going to meet many of you, my readers. I have the first symptoms of this anxiety; the butterflies in my stomach provoked by the proximity of the unknown, and the waking up in the middle of the night asking myself, what will you look like, sound like? And me? Will I be as you imagine me?