Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez nails the Castro regime for one of its most nefarious practices: Preventing Cubans like her, Cubans who insist on thinking and acting for themselves, from leaving the country.
Oustide the sun is blindingly hot, and in the immigration office 100 people are sweating profusely. But no one complains. A critical word, a demanding attitude, could end in punishment. So we all wait silently for a “white card,” authorization to travel outside Cuba.
The white card is a piece of the migratory absurdities that prevent Cubans from freely leaving and entering their own country. It is our own Berlin Wall without the concrete, the land-mining of our borders without explosives. A wall made of paperwork and stamps, overseen by the grim stares of soldiers. This capricious exit permit costs over $200, a year’s salary for the average Cuban. But money is not enough. Nor is a valid passport. We must also meet other, unwritten requirements, ideological and political conditions that make us eligible, or not, to board a plane.
With so many obstacles, receiving a “yes” is like hearing the screech of the bolts pulled back on a cell door. But for many, like me, the answer is always “no.” Thousands of Cubans have been condemned to immobility on this island, though no court has issued such a verdict. Our “crime” is thinking critically of the government, being a member of an opposition group or subscribing to a platform in defense of human rights.
In my case, I can flaunt the sad record of having received 19 denials since 2008 of my applications for a white card. I left an empty chair at every conference, every award ceremony, every presentation of my books. I never received any explanation, only the laconic phrase “For now, you are not authorized to leave the country.”
Read the whole thing here.