Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

La novela perdida

Posted: October 30, 2016 by jennroig in Chronicles, Commentary, Reviews, Spanish

Ayer tropezé de nuevo con la literatura cubana. Llegué a las 6:25pm a una presentación que debía haber empezado a las 6:30pm, y por supuesto arrancó a las 7:00pm. El Libro es Memorias del Equilibrio y el autor José Fernández Pequeño.

memorias-del-equlibrio-carita-266x400Fui a la lectura porque me llegó vía una invitación de Facebook, donde se describía el libro como de relatos existenciales. Y yo quiero, siempre he querido pero ahora más, encontrar el libro existencial cubano. La promesa no se cumplió.

Pero lo que hizo  la experiencia extemporánea es que no sucedió en La Habana, en alguna sala de la UNEAC o el Pabellón Cuba o La UH. Pasó en New York, en una sala de NYU y entre quienes supongo serían también cubanos emigrantes. Salvo una amiga neoyorkina que me acompañó porque le supliqué que fuera conmigo para que me sirviera como ancla a la normalidad. Mi normalidad.

Memorias del Equilibrio resultó no ser lo que estaba buscando, pero fue de todos modos un descubrimiento interesante, por lo distinto. Un tono que para mí es costumbrista, como el mismo autor dijo, “del habla no del lenguaje”, presentado por un narrador que en primera persona o a la sombra de esta creaba juegos espaciales. Costumbrismo entregado en una estructura de nuevo milenio, aunque ya ese tono lo iban teniendo en Cuba desde mucho antes de 1999.

He tratado de entender durante el día qué es lo que me irrita en libros como Memorias del Equilibrio. Va más allá de que en sí mismos sumen a la imagen de lo cubano como lo burdo, lo tosco, donde yo no quiero encajar. Como si lo cubano no fuera también Eliseo Diego y Dulce María. Porque por más que me rebele contra la imagen ultra publicitada de los bicitaxis, los cerdos en la azotea, la vieja chismosa del CDR, inevitablemente eso también es Cuba.

Va más allá del sexismo que se cuela en el uso de la mujer como personajes y su forma de hablar. No logro imaginar a ninguna de las mujeres cubanas que conozco diciéndole a un amante que “le gusta por lo puerco que es”. Pero quizás sí existe. Sólo que yo no la quiero conocer. No por purdor o puritanismo, porque leer sobre un glande turgente no es nada luego de haber leído a Zoé Valdés, o Jesús David Curbelo, o Henry Miller, ya el resto no sorprende.

Va más allá de la reafirmación del arquetipo sexista: “el habla popular cubana es masculina porque es dura, directa, sarcástica”. Como si las mujeres fueran incapaces de ser duras y crueles, directas y sarcásticas.

1827_photo_en_2

René Peña

Creo que lo que más me molestó, no del libro que no he leído, y no leeré, sino de la experiencia en sí es la promesa rota. El no encontrar el libro existencial cubano que me defina desde adentro, al margen, o más allá, o por encima, de los momentos políticos, un acento o un habla, el edificio icónico, el referente espacial. Todo lo que nos habla sólo a nosotros y nos separa de los demás, de quienquiera que no es cubano de Cuba. Porque tenemos códigos tan cerrados, tan de Isla, que no dejan entrar ni a cubanos de Miami, ni a cubanos de New Jersey, ni a Cubanos de Madrid. Qué le queda entonces esperar al cubano de Finlandia o de Australia…

Otro escritor me dijo hoy que Cuba carece de la gravedad, o la visión en la distancia, o el largo aliento para producir ese tipo de literatura, porque el trópico nos drena, por eso Cuba da buenos cuentistas y poetas.

Pero no me acaba de cerrar la hipótesis. Hace aguas cuando recuerdo la novela del colombiano que no recuerdo su nombre pero sí el título, Érase una vez el amor pero tuve que matarlo. Y colombiano no cachaco, sino costeño, tan atrapado por el calor como nosotros. O La Muerte de Artemio Cruz, o Aura, de Fuentes. No creo que Fuentes se estuviera congelando en México.

02-cirenaica-moreira-he-lives-in-cincinnati-and-does-not-even-write-to-me-1999

Cirenaica Moreira

Mi teoría para explicarme por qué no tenemos la novela épica existencial es porque en Cuba no se tolera el dolor. Admitir el dolor. El dolor es de débiles, de flojos. Lo que hay detrás de la explicación del choteo que da Mañach es una alergia generacional al dolor. Por eso los cubanos podemos ser grandes cínicos, geniales manejando el doble sentido, jugando vivo, machacando en baja… Pero tan pronto alguien se pone serio y expone el dolor, todos nos anticipamos la risa, porque necesitamos desesperadamente que la tragedia se vuelva tragicomedia. En un libro de cuentos cubano un hombre decía a la mujer que amaba que “en Cuba no se podía decir te quiero”… Me gustaría saber si los cubanos podríamos tomar en serio un ciclo de psicoterapia freudiana.

Y para lograr escribir las grandes novelas al dolor hay que atraesarlo como a una tormenta, un ejercicio de apnea submarina. Hay que hundirse y respirarlo, de frente, sin escudarse en esquinas de humor negro o sardonismos.

Me pregunto si algo tiene que ver la oda nacional al choteo con tener un país con los más altos índices de suicidio, a niveles de los países nórdicos, a pesar de todo ese sol. En Cuba los hombres se ahorcan y las mujeres se dan candela, dice el refrán. Porque rumiamos el dolor sin enseñarlo a nadie, sin reconocer que está, y esperamos que se vaya por sí mismo, porque Dios nos libre de mostrar tamaña vulnerabilidad.

Y así nuestras grandes obras son sardónicas, juguetonas si bien oscuras, como Novás Calvo, Virgilio, Onelio Jorge Cardoso, Jesús Díaz, Reinaldo Arenas… Donde el dolor va por debajo, el dolor por el padre que abandona, por la madre que rechaza, por el amante que engaña, por la decepción hacia el ideal. El dolor se arrastra a hurtadillas, sobreentendido por quién lee pero jamás admitido por quien narra.

Claro que habrán excepciones. Pero Dulce María, Eliseo Diego, o Cirilo Villaverde tienen quizá mucho en sí de la madre España.

isabel-santosLa excepción más gigantesca es quizás en cine, Fernando Pérez. Pero incluso en él, el dolor está marcado por la muerte.

Como si la muerte fuese la única disculpa para sentir dolor, para traslucir el dolor.

Quizás es eso lo que más me irrita de momentos como el de ayer. Que por más que busco no encuentro el autor cubano que escriba para explicarme mi lugar en el mundo, y que destile la esencia de quiénes somos, desnudos de espacio y de madre patria. el autor que escriba La Montaña Mágica cubana.

Thank God for my Barbieless childhood

Posted: November 26, 2014 by jennroig in Commentary, English
Tags: , , ,

I’ve heard there’s a new barbie in the market now. A Barbie that it’s supposed to be realistic, it’s smaller than classic Barbie, more curvy and… more anatomically possible. I’m not so sure about that. I haven’t read if manufacturers added anything that may remotely resemble a vagina… But that’s a discussion for another day. The thing is girls can add bruises and scars and cellulite when they play with the doll, so this one should make them feel better about themselves as females, as future women…

I grew up in Cuba, in the 80s. No Barbies in my toy kingdom back then. It was the Golden Age of the Soviet era. Everything was made in USSR.

Vintage set, exactly like mine.

Vintage set, exactly like mine.

I had a set of Matryoshkas, I had a baby boy doll with stuffed body. Or at least I thought it was a baby boy, even though it was dressed in pink… what a lovely thing to think for a girl back then. I had a lot of stuffed animals that I like to vaccinate pretending I was a nurse and they needed to receive medication via a syringe. About that baby boy doll, I remember I really liked that toy.

Of course, as a girl, there’s always this doll that you care a lot for. You don’t love it as much as you admire it. You don’t play that much with it, instead you put it in a visible place to be admired, queen among all the others, because you think it’s beautiful and you feel you would like to be like “her”.

For me, it was a tall doll, brown eyes with long eyelashes, black hair slightly curled, with a skin several tones darker than mine, like an Indian skin, or mixed race skin. Her body was solid, curvy, and with its round face you wouldn’t think it as thin. It wore a pink, loose dress and it had definitely an adult expression, a somehow distant maturity and mystery in her eyes. It didn’t look like a girl doll, but a woman doll.

Barbies actually came later to my life. My aunt came back from Angola with two of those, when the war ended or at least Cuban troops were dismissed. One was dressed in white, like a bride. The other was dressed in black, like an elegant femme fatale or a millionaire orphan. Both were skinny, so tall with impossibly long legs. They used heels, but they couldn’t stand, they needed some sort of plastic device to help them stand. I didn’t play with those either. I sat them in front of the queen, on the other extreme of the shelf.

As a woman, I left behind those dolls a long time ago. Not just because I’m a migrant and dolls don’t fit in my luggage, but they were out of sight even before, when my mom moved to Havana and I refurnished my bedroom as university student.

Now I wonder if I don’t have a lot to thank to that queen doll. Even if I envied her, even if I wished I looked more like her, with those big mysterious eyes and darker skin and less like myself. As every girl/woman, I would want to be different. Back then more than now. But also now.

Yet not to the point of having plastic surgery, or spending hours and tons of money on makeup, or rejecting who I am and how I’m made. I’m fine with the way I am, even when I’m not at my best. Maybe it’s true and I have that doll to thank for, because at least she had a body that resemble mine, because she resembled a human female, not an impossible fantasy of some feverish, sick mind.

On The Onion: Little-Known Facts About The Founding Fathers

On The Onion: Little-Known Facts About The Founding Fathers

It is no news. Fake and satyric news have been there for a while. And we [journalists] love it. From The Daily Show with John Stewart  to The Onion and The Daily Currant, we follow their accounts via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, or whatever social media is fashionable at the moment and we may be using.

dogs pockerThe reason we love it, it’s the witty. Humor -smart humor at least- takes creativity, intelligence as well as to be informed. I’m not referring to the fake alerts that invade Internet with every new storm or flood, warning about sharks exploring parts of Manhattan with very bad Photoshop. I mean the good job, the one that takes time and it’s believable because something inside your brain agrees that no matter how crazy that sound, it eventually could happen.

Sometimes the lines are so blurred, and the comedy is so clever and the writing has been taken so far, that we buy the content, we believe the joke to be true for a moment, until someone calls it for what it is: they’re making fun of whoever is the target of the occasion. So we need someone who call us back to reality: “check it again, it’s in The Onion, the Pope wasn’t teaching how to use a condom in public”.

There are other styles in satira. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is a very good example. We appreciate so much the exquisite work of John Oliver’s team because they take the time to gather all facts and statements to mock a politician, a celebrity, a public official, or the general stance of a government towards a newsworthy situation. This time is about strong analysis, debunking misguided notions and bringing facts to the table again.

But sometimes the joke isn’t so clear and the issue is upsetting enough. I really resent this attempt by the “National Report” to throw accusations of doping over the Dutch Football Team in the World Cup. There’s nothing hilarious about it.

There’s nothing on the outlet’s presentation that leads to believe it is about Satira. Moreover, the tone and style of the writing do not suggest any satyric intention. By all means.

I know it’s up the reader to be aware and suspect the probable irrationality of it all. But sometimes emotions are too heavy and that’s a good moment to step back or be very clear about the intention.

I felt really dubious about The Netherlands’ performance against Costa Rica, mostly because I was rooting for CR, but also because I bought the fake report of a doping scandal. The fact that FIFA is so corrupt and so dirty and so unfair and disgusting, didn’t help to raise my flags.

Anyway, this is a note to self, and a suggestion to online readers. Wait a bit before making up your mind. You may be stumbling upon some fake, badly written, satirical attempt of news.

That’s basically the point I make on my most recent/first publication on LinkedIn.

I reproduce it here, just in case I ever decide to disappear from every social media, this will still be the surviving repository of my work and attempts to find some missing meanings.

And this piece is all about trying to redefine meanings, thus this is the perfect place to echo it.

Journos, why don’t we reset our concepts and redraw our boundaries?

linkedin post 1As a freelance reporter for AmericaEconomia’s MBA & Executive Education site, I frequently get in conflict with AETecno‘s team of journalists.

Why would someone who covers business education crash against IT reporters? That’s the logic question, which must be popping up in your minds right now. It’s a very good question indeed, so I want to address it here.

First, MBA & ExEd site does not exclusively publishes news and articles about what’s going on in the global landscape of B-Schools. We also report on management, marketing trends, leadership, CSR, sustainability and entrepreneurship… Mostly, when I pitch stories that would fall under the “entrepreneurship” umbrella, very often I’m heading straight to the source of conflict, that Golden Apple of Discord at AmericaEconomia‘s newsroom.

Think about the concept of “Entrepreneurship”. At least today, it is inextricably related to this Start-Ups Renaissance phenomenon that we are witnessing all over the world. Now try to remember ten start-ups you know, either because you use their apps or services, or because some media outlet has featured it. How many of them are basically tech start-ups? Can you mention ONE with no connection whatsoever to technology?

Something I’ve found out while learning about entrepreneurship, in meeting with entrepreneurs and after writing profiles about vibrant, influential and disruptive start-ups, it’s that almost all of them are using technology to some extent -if they are not entirely based on technology. Hence the conflict arises: am I stepping into AETecno’s sacred territory, or am I entitled to cover the topic for MBA & ExEd?

In general, I think the outcome of those “fights” fairly splits between both sites in the newsroom. We win in MBA as many times as we lose againt AETecno, over the right to report on these issues. It doesn’t really matter as long as it is not the main concern of this post.

My question is the same I asked a couple of days ago to a clever guy that has become a friendly consultant for me, since we collaborated for another story a while ago. I asked Miklos Grof, Fundacity‘s CEO and co-founder, if he agreed with “including AirBnB and Uber in the ‘technology companies’ category”. I had heard this statement from SkillBridge‘s CEO Rajeev Jeyakumar while I was interviewing him to find out how can SkillBridge.co, as an online platform, bring more efficiency to the way companies find and hire the ideal consultant for a project. (More on this on my next publication on AmericaEconomia -wink).Journalism-for-Techies3

So I consulted Miklos because Fundacity is described as an online platform (check) that can bring efficiency (check) to the process of venture capitalists and other investors finding and selecting (check) “the start-ups that can be the next big thing”. His answer came quickly to take me closer to dangerous waters: “I think ‘technology company’ is a broad bracket which these companies for sure fall under”.

But fortunately he followed with an argument that gave me some room to argue my right to the SkillBridge story: “It is confusing, because ‘technology company’ means literally anything from bio-tech to mobile apps like Yo. The truth is that several market tags apply to these companies. For Uber can be ‘Transportation’, ‘Mobile’ and ‘Technology’. I would say Uber is a tech company aimed at transportation delivering a mobile solution. What do you think?

Well, up to that moment, I really pictured as technology companies those corporations such as Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Lenovo or IBM, all of which make revenues out of innovating, producing and commercializing technological products or solutions.

However, I believe I had a sort of Epiphany at that point, thanks to Miklos. I replied back that these were confusing times, because everything is changing so fast, that we can’t keep track of all transformations, which are impacting our understanding of whatever used to be a solid, established kind of knowledge.

It’s true, it seems difficult to consider Uber as a transportation company, because in our minds we think of that term connected to “freights and lorries”, as Miklos pointed out. But how will kids understand “transportation” and label “transportation companies” when they will get to run the show?

As we enter a world where technology -whether IT or any other kind of tech- intervenes and mediates almost every action, work, and outcome, it is going to be more difficult to separate technology from any other market, labor, or human area of action and interest. As almost every activity, and entire industries, are pulled into the digital age, as Rajeev told me, when will come the moment when we can all agree that everything is about technology? Therefore nothing is it really? When will we agree to sort things out using other features to segment our understanding of things, yet again?

We are long established in a world ruled by the Internet of Information and Data. Now I’ve been listening more frequently to gurus referring to a very real future with an expanding Internet of Things, even an Internet of Energy… in connection to concepts such as the shared economy…

When that moment finally arrives, I will be a happier journalist, with less chance to get into conflicts with my colleagues from AETecno.

As I continue to look for a job, I attended this morning the last virtual session of The Global Careers Fair 2014, organized by several UN organizations. Among others, I had the chance to chat with recruiters from the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN Women, and both the World Bank and the IMF. 

unnamed girlDespite the friendly platform and the chance to check out several organizations’ lists of openings gathered in only one site, I found out after an hour that I was basically wasting my time. At odds with its international vocation and its claimed support to migrants, women and equal opportunities, these organizations enforce specific protocols that make it impossible for me to apply to their openings. Why? Well, I was born in Cuba and I’m currently a permanent resident in the USA. In order for me to take an international officer position with one of these employers, I should relinquish my current status of permanent resident in the USA. Yes, in the hypothetical case that I was still living in Cuba I didn’t need to relinquish anything, but obviously I wouldn’t be able to access the platform there -access to Internet and then bandwidth and software compatibility would have been insurmountable obstacles.

“My best advice is for you to wait to acquire the US citizenship and then come back to apply with us” -it’s the feedback I received from a very nice, very helpful recruiter (I mean no irony nor sarcasm here). So, in order to have a shot at an international officer position at any of the UN institutions and others of similar sort, I need to wait.

This wasn’t in fact such a big surprise. During my MA studies in Europe, I applied for a summer internship at the FAO office in Rome. I was informed I wasn’t eligible as a Cuban national. No further explanations given.  The funny detail now is that I already gave up my citizenship rights in Cuba. Lawyers will understand that nationality and citizenship are actually different concepts, that I won’t explain here. But if I would relinquish my status of legal permanent resident here, I would remain in a sort of limbo, without a place to call home, where I know I could go back, no matter where in the world I get to be, doing what.

Erasmus Mundus MA Journalism (2009-2011)

Erasmus Mundus MA Journalism (2009-2011)

That’s a very peculiar situation that immigrants from other countries, asylum seekers and refugees usually don’t face. Unless your country disappears from the map -it has happened before, ask people in their 40’s from the Balkans and they tell you stories- or because of some very bizarre circumstance, migrants aren’t estranged from their citizenship rights. Ask Eritrean diaspora members and they will tell you how much they weight in their homeland’s politics.

I wonder, isn’t the UN the kind of organization that could use more people with my background? Aren’t people like myself better equipped to understand the hardships and problems of those to whom the UN organizations mean to help and support? Aren’t we prepared to assess possible solutions for diverse problems in diverse environments?

As a professional candidate born in Denmark, Italy, Australia, Canada or the USA, there is little chance to really understand and empathize with any of this. Maybe a representative from a minority, a second generation son or daughter of immigrants can grasp something and imagine a bit more, but nothing close to the actual first hand knowledge.

I think global institutions who are supposed to serve the under-served should actually revise their policies and protocols.

Theater-MasksI am actively seeking for a full time job. I’m not totally broke, I’m freelancing here and there, but I’ve been definitely on the market for a full time gig for quite a while by now.

So, my resume is in every job board site I know. Just yesterday I sent an application through yet another site and a bit later I was receiving a mail with a “free critique” of my resume. In fact, they even scored with a 74% my chances for a hiring manager to notice me.

It literally said:

Unfortunately, your existing resume gives the impression that you are a “doer” and not an “achiever.” Too many of your job descriptions are task-based and not results-based – telling what you did, rather than illustrating what you achieved.

At the beginning, this made me smile. I’m a journalist, I’ve been working as a reporter and my task and my result are basically the same: gathering information, reaching out to sources, fact checking and writing pieces for publication. I’d say my editors seem to be happy about the way I handle tasks and the results I deliver, considering they haven’t got rid of me so far. I thought this analysis was probably made by some machine and it was an automatic response from a company that actually charges for “professional resume writing”.

But certain anger has been growing inside me since yesterday.

Cultural, political, social and economic patterns have been dividing us for a long time into winners and losers. Now a new binomial category has joined the party: we are either “doers” or “achievers”. And you know what? Fuck the achievers!

I refuse to succumb to the constant pressure of “achieving”. It sounds to me like we are all forced to run this crazy sprint for the next goal. We need to count, to measure our success in numbers and then brag about it. Once you reached/achieved a goal, then you need to get ready for the next pursue.

I don’t like it. I don’t buy it. I take a stance on the side of the “doers”. I believe the doer will get the job done, and will do it in a fair manner, without screwing up anyone on the process. Probably doers tend to have better chances to actually enjoy the task they are carrying out.

Furthermore, I’m afraid of achievers, specially those who feel the need to count how much they got in return, and then tell everybody about it. Think for a minute, try to remember someone that fits that profile. How do you actually like him/her?polls_Einstein_tongue_4855_988629_poll_xlarge

What if Florence Nightingale or Mahatma Gandhi were asked whether they had considered themselves as doers or achievers? I can’t even imagine them indulging the answer. And those are the kind of people I tend to look up to. In my field, nowadays, I can’t figure what Nick Davies would answer to that. He probably would start laughing.

Every brilliant person I have ever known, those with an actual list of achievements, didn’t need to wear a tag to inform it. It was something I discovered while getting to know them. And that’s what makes them fascinating people. In fact, most of them weren’t seeking for any recognition at all, that was something that just came as bilateral product. They were rather focused on learning something new, facilitating a complicated process, crafting a solution to a problem and then sharing it. The most successful people I know and have heard about, they have that in common. They were doers, achievements happened because they were working hard on their tasks.

I don’t trust achievers. Quantity doesn’t necessarily relate to quality. And if counting is your only point of reference for a good result, you will be likely more inclined to lie about it. Moreover, at least in my field, I’m positive the best piece of journalism is not the one receiving a boost in Web traffic.

I hope some employers out there might still be able to relate to values, skills and experience, not only to a collection of “results”.

Are Cubans Really a Diaspora?

Posted: June 5, 2014 by jennroig in Commentary, English
Tags: , , ,

Cuban flag collageSome days ago I met a friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time. She’s a Somali-Dane living in Denmark. I am a Cuban settled in the USA. Given our backgrounds, it is pure logic that our conversation eventually landed in the subjects of immigration, adaptation, identity, and what it means for her to be a Danish who was born in Somalia and what it means to me to be living in the USA after so many travels and 27 years in Cuba.

We discovered we had slightly different perspectives to the meaning of Diaspora, even though we agree that Somalia and Cuba have both produced quite spread global diasporas. I have been thinking about why I do not want to share the term of diaspora with those who are just expats, which is somehow a more modern way to look at the term.

This is why:

“Diaspora” is defined by the Merriam Webster as “a group of people who live outside the area in which they had lived for a long time or in which their ancestors lived”. The first specific reference given points to the “settling of scattered colonies of Jews outside Palestine after the Babylonian exile”. If we look the etymology of the word, we realize it is a Greek term originated from “diaspeirein ‘disperse,’ from dia ‘across’ + speirein ‘scatter.’ The term originated in the Septuagint (Deuteronomy 28:25) in the phrase esē diaspora en pasais basileias tēs gēs ‘thou shalt be a dispersion in all kingdoms of the earth.’”

Were Jews the first nation to become Diaspora? How come that original migration of the first humans leaving Africa to other regions of the world? I’m not even sure what happened first, the dispersion of Jews or the relocation of Trojans who survived the wreck of their city.

Maybe the reason we all think of Jews as “diaspora pioneers” is the connotation of the word, the underlying meaning. The ancient city of Troy was considered a myth for a long time. The reason why those prehistoric humans left Africa is unknown. But there’s plenty of documentation certifying that Jews were forced to leave their homeland and more importantly, they never lost ties with their culture, religion, and original geographic region they called homeland. They could have adapt to new places, learn to speak other languages and even invent some new ones; they married the locals and became such a diverse nation. A nation without a State for so many years. That didn’t happen to Trojans. Virgilio wrote that Romans were the descendants of Aeneas.

Thus, there must be a sense of pain, an intimate nostalgia and the will to preserve tradition and identity to really deserve being considered as a Diaspora. That is why Somali people all around the world represent a Diaspora, and that is why Cubans also have produced a multilayer, nuanced Diaspora that has changed over the years.

Some facts

In 2013, according the CIA World Factbook 2014, Cuba was ranked 186 as for its net migration rate (migrant(s)/1000 population) with a negative 3,61%.

Data from 2013 gathered by the Pew Research Center revealed that “An estimated 2.0 million Hispanics of Cuban origin resided in the United States in 2011”.

Take a look at the map below.

Cubans born with other nationalities in selected countries

Cubans born with other nationalities in selected countries (2014)

The numbers in the map are not accurate, as different government count their foreign born population in different ways.

For instance, those 96.847 Cuban-Americans in the USA are sum of people who naturalized between 2010 – 2013. The actual number might have increased from that Pew’s estimates by now.

On the other extreme is Denmark. The data provided by the Danes is extremely updated and exact. If you want to look for how many Danish citizens came originally from Cuba, at a given time, you’ll find that right now, on June 2014, there are 76 Cuban-Danes living in Denmark. Those with a status of Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) are also included by the statistics -the number is 352 Cubans have managed to go.

This chart represents the number of Cubans with status of Permanent Resident in USA, Spain, Chile, Denmark and Canada, between 2010 and 2014. I could not find the data for every year, so the chart is useful only to give a broad idea of how far in the world Cubans have managed to go.

Summary for Cubans with LPR status in selected countries

Summary for Cubans with LPR status in selected countries

In order to find the Danish data, I got in touch with another Danish friend. She was amazed to find only 352 Cubans living in Denmark. She thought that number would be higher. But I think it’s actually amazing that so many Cubans manage to overcome visa restrictions, lack of financial means, language barriers, and such a cultural difference to settle in Denmark.

Denmark was actually the first place I arrived when I left Cuba back in 2009. I can’t imagine anything more distant.

Numbers for Cubans in the USA and Spain are to be expected. The Spanish ancestry law allowed thousands of Cubans to claim their Spanish citizenship due to the Spanish origins of their ancestors. Also, there are many educational programs and scholarships granted y Spanish institutions that target Latin American students. Cubans do well in that regard thanks to their fairly good level of instruction.

In the USA, the Cuban Adjustment Act and other immigration programs explain the trends.

I can’t imagine so many people can feel happy about taking all those risks and previsions to leave their homeland, forever and ever. I admit not everybody has to feel the same, everybody has to believe “there’s no place like home”, maybe a large part actually truly feel “home can be wherever there’s love and harmony”… But really, such a big number?

I wonder how many Cubans are currently spread around the world. I have met at least a Cuban in every city I’ve been so far. That includes Aarhus in Denmark and Helsinki in Finland. I know some friends of mine that are living in Asia, who know some friends who are Australia and New Zealand.

If Cuba’s current population is above 11 million people, what chunk of that number is the population of Cubans who are living all over the world? How many millions are we today? What is the actual size of our nation?

That is why I claim for us the word Diaspora. That is why I do not agree with more current meanings of the term.

This is the table, for those curious about the numbers:

table 2014Sources:

StatBank Denmark

US Immigration Stats

Departamento de Extranjería y Migración – Chile

Canadian Statistics

Secretaría General de Inmigración y Emigración – Spain