We spent Tuesday between the phone ringing and friends coming over to tell us that Carlos Otero, the best known presenter on Cuban TV, had asked for asylum in the United States. This has been the news that has circulated the fastest by word of mouth in the last few months, maybe because it concerns a man of the media. He had come to be the only one who, in our sleepy programming, had a space with his own name: “Carlos y punto.” [Carlos and full stop.]
Accustomed as I am to seeing some of my friends leave each year, I am not surprised that this “man of success” has chosen the road to exile. His decision looks like that of many who have understood that here they have no future, who have come to realize that Cuba is not a country where dreams can come true. I confirm this every time I ask my acquaintances about their plans and I hear, more than half the time, the phrase, “What I want is to leave.” This answer grows alarmingly when we ask those who are younger.
This continuous bleeding that every month takes away the youngest, the boldest and, why not say it, the most talented, is proof that the well being of the people is not the center of attention of the Cuban government. Political elements, ideology, and past evidence of loyalty are prioritized above the “here” and “now” of our needs. As long as “up there” they don’t recognize that they haven’t been able to build a country where people want to stay and use their energies, the problem of emigration will not be solved.
How many will have to leave so that we can hear the phrase, “We failed, we haven’t been able to give a future to Cubans.” I suspect, because I know the hardheadedness that comes with too many years in power, that not even this desolated postage stamp of an island full of tired and aged people, with their children living in other latitudes, will make the Cuban government come to reason. I imagine the accusations of “sold to imperialism” and “traitor” that will be heard these days in the Institute of Radio and Television, while talking about the exiled newscaster.
They don’t know that with the exit of Carlos Otero, those who stay feel the island to be increasingly empty and terribly boring.