When Life Is In The Hands Of Human Traffickers

Terminal 3 in Jose Marti International Airport in Havana (14ymedio)

Terminal 3 in Jose Marti International Airport in Havana (14ymedio)

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 4 February 2017 – The wifi signal barely crosses the glass. The wireless network at José Martí International Airport only covers the boarding area. But a woman presses her whole body against the opaque window that separates the travelers’ area to communicate with human traffickers who are holding her daughter in Mexico.

For half any hour the lady reveals her despair. “I don’t have that much money, if I had it I would send it right now,” she prays through IMO. The videochat is cut several times by the poor quality of the connection On the other side, the voice of a man repeats, without backing off, “Three hundred dollars so she can return on Tuesday.”

The woman wipes her tears and unsuccessfully asks for a reduction. Nearby, a maid who cleans the bathroom passes by, idly dragging a cart with cleaning supplies. A customs official walks by, absorbed, and pretends he is not listening to the disturbing request projected from the screen of the phone, “Don’t kill her, don’t kill her.”

For half any hour the lady reveals her despair. “I don’t have that much money, if I had it I would send it right now,” she prays through IMO

The scene happens in a place crowded with people, most of whom are passengers about to board a transatlantic flight, or a new commercial route to the United States, and there are also the family members and friends who have come to see them off. No one shows any sign of hearing the drama developing a few feet away.

A tourist tosses back a beer just as the woman is asking the man for half an hour to “collect the money.” She starts the race against the clock. She calls several contacts from her IMO address book, but the first four, at least, don’t answer. On the fifth try, a shrill voice on the other end says, “Hello.”

“I need a huge favor, you can’t say no,” the lady stammers. But the head that can be seen on the screen shakes from side to side. “Are you crazy? And if after you pay this money they don’t let her go?” asks the voice. The tension makes the hand holding the phone start to tremble and her granddaughter, who has accompanied her, helps her hold on to it.

Several more calls and the money is not forthcoming. Finally a serious voice says yes, he can lend the money if the woman will pay it back “in two installments” to his sister in Havana. The mother agrees, promises she can “repay every cent,” although it sounds like a formula to get out of a bind. The man believes her.

Now they must arrange the details. The victim doesn’t have a bank account but the mother will send information about “how to send the money.” This is how the kidnappers get paid. Only then will they allow her to fly from Cancun to Havana, or at least that is what they promise.

Several more calls and the money is not forthcoming. Finally a serious voice says yes, he can lend the money if the woman will pay in back “in two installments” to his sister in Havana

In the middle of last year the Mexican authorities shut down a network trafficking in undocumented people from Cuba that operated in this tourist area in the Mexican state of Qunitana Roo. The end of the “wet foot/dry foot” policy this January has left many migrants in the hands of the coyotes, who don’t hesitate to turn to extortion to make up for the reduction in the flow of Cubans and, as a result, their loss of earnings.

The wifi signal is lost altogether, but the mother is feeling relieved. “She was in a large group, about 20 people,” she tells her granddaughter. A simple calculation allows us to know how much the captors will earn on “freeing” all those they are holding.

Nothing ends with the delivery of the money. “She is going to want to go again,” concludes the mother, the instant she hangs up from the last videochat. “I can’t stand it here, I can’t” she repeats, while walking toward the escalator filled with smiling and tanned tourists.

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3 thoughts on “When Life Is In The Hands Of Human Traffickers

  1. If this comment was a blog post, the title would be THROWING PEOPLES UNDER THE BUS. I’m more and more sure that CubaZuela is allowed to exist exclusively because of geoplitics. The USA could easily fix Vzla and get all the heavy oil it needs from there and Canada, playing them off against each other and getting a nice low price. However no, the US would rather have a toehold in Eurasia via the petrodollar, so oil comes all the way from Saudi Arabia.
    So why appease and facilitate continuing Castrista power? Is that about throwing a little geopolitical bone to China and Russia because of the US’ messing about in their hemisphere?
    To Mario: If it were that easy, there would be a real economic revolution much greater than the fake one that happened half a century ago.
    Cubazuelans are gentle souls and unable to have revolutions every so often, so they continue to suffer…

  2. Welcome to the world outside of Cuba! Where money matters and humans not! Is it worth longing for?

  3. There is much fertile land in Cuba, and the government will lease it at zero cost it to anyone willing to work. Grow crops, chicken, pigs. Start a small business, a food stand at the road, maybe a paladar later on. Sorry for the people who got cheated on “American Dream”, that ceased to be true half a century ago. They have spent for that trip to Mexico more a horse and a stall in Cuba. Not too smart. They should have known the are kidnappings in capitalist countries. Don’t like kidnappers? Stay in Cuba.

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