A large number of Cuban exiles are exploring a unique option: Returning to Cuba to live

For Rene, Miami is a lonely place since his spouse died eight years ago.

Although the 78-year-old from Guantá namo, Cuba, lives with his daughter plus granddaughter, he’ s alone the majority of his time. So in Come july 1st, he asked for Cuban government authorization to return.

“ The particular loneliness kills me, ” stated Rene. “ The end of the street for old people here is a good institution because the family cannot care for us, ” he said. “ And that would be the worst that can occur to me. ”

Rene came to Miami in 2004 like a political refugee. He is now the U. S. citizen but desires to reunite with his two sons, 4 brothers and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Guantá namo.

“ I don’t regret arriving here. If I say that, I would end up being ungrateful, ” said Rene, who seem to spent five years as a politics prisoner in Cuba. “ However in Cuba, life is different. You maneuver around and you talk to people. Here, you are able to spend a month and not see your neighbors. ”

Rene and many of the other Cubans interviewed by este Nuevo Herald for this story failed to want to provide their real brands for many reasons, including the fact that most are waiting for Cuba’ s approval for his or her return. They form part of the trend that has been growing since the immigration reforms that Raú l Castro launched in 2013.

Under those reforms, Cubans whom left and were called “ emigrants” by the government can now make an application for “ repatriation” to regain home and its benefits. They apply on the Cuban consulates in the countries their current address, or at the Interior Ministry over the island.

That does not indicate they can recover any properties confiscated when they left Cuba. The government generally seized the homes of people exactly who emigrated “ definitively. ”

Cuban government figures demonstrated 11, 176 Cubans applied for repatriation in 2017, most of them living in the usa. In November 2016, the head from the Cuban diplomatic mission in Wa said that 13, 000 had used. A similar figure, 14, 000, has been used by Juan Carlos Alonso Fraga, head of the Center for Inhabitants and Development Studies at the Nationwide Statistics Office, during a TV look.

“ They are several, of both genders, although the vast majority are older than 50, ” Fraga said, adding that the trend associated with 2016 was continuing in 2017.

The Cubans evaluated by el Nuevo Herald offered very different reasons for their decision to come back to the island.

Several, like Rene, want to spend their own last years with family within their home country. Others need medical care, but still others want to buy or inherit a house, retire in a place where the living costs is cheap or even engage in political activism.

For Iliana Hernandez, an activist in the opposition firm Somos+ who returned from The country of spain in 2016, “ I did this because we have to educate Cubans to get rid of their fear, to use my mindset to show that we can demand our own rights through non-violent struggle, ” said Hernandez, who gave the girl real name.

Hernandez, who has Spanish citizenship, said the lady lives full time on the island yet travels abroad “ to inhale and exhale a little bit and live in democracy. ”

Residing in Cuba, residing somewhere else

In fact , most people who have or want to regain their particular residency say they don’ capital t plan to live on the island. The particular 2013 migration reforms also permitted Cubans to live abroad for up to two years without losing residency, its advantages or their properties.

“ It’s all a matter of cash. A large majority is not repatriating simply because they want to live in Cuba, but since it allows them certain economic benefits, ” said Manuel, who started their application earlier this year but plans to keep living in Miami.

The benefits include cheaper passports. A Cuban living in the United States must pay $400 to obtain a Cuban passport, but the resident pays only $100. Renewal of the document, required every 2 yrs, cost $200 for Cubans residing abroad but only $25 regarding residents.

Returning Cubans also have the right to bring in a delivery of household goods without paying transfer duties. Once there, they can also transfer goods for personal use and spend in Cuban pesos rather than difficult currencies.

Manuel, 39, said he expects to take advantage of the lower costs for passports, yet added that his main reason with regard to seeking Cuban residency is to keep your government from denying him the opportunity to reenter the island.

“ I don’t want to be such as Ofelia Acevedo, ” he stated, referring to the widow of activist Oswaldo Payá, who lives in Ohio. She has been denied re-entry in order to Cuba while her daughter, Rosa Marí a Payá, has been permitted to travel between Miami and Havana.

“ When you emigrate, the government can deny you admittance to the country. But when you’re the resident you can enter as often while you want, ” he said. “ In fact , you live in Cuba although you live in Miami. ”

Cuba’s requirements for regaining home include having someone on the tropical isle who promises to house and give food to returnees until they can provide for them selves.

Most of the returnees provide their own money, however , and in many cases intend to invest in a small business like a hair salon or perhaps a family restaurant.

“ People take clothes and medications from Miami and sell them there” to make ends meet, Manuel said.

He added that Cuban immigration officials usually ask the particular would-be returnees if they plan to purchase a business, what they plan to do around the island, why they are returning and exactly what kind of jobs they have in the country their current address.

He said he or she told his interviewer that he desired to care for his mother, but overheard another man who was applying declare he was “ sorry he or she fell for the lies of imperialism, and that living in the United States was not exactly what he had expected. ”

“ I chatted with that guy and it was all a sit. He just wanted to enter Cuba and still live in West Palm Seaside, ” he said.

The right to buy and inherit home

Manuel said he or she believes the repatriation system is unlawful and “ can only have been developed in the macabre mind of the Castros. ”

“ How do i lose my rights as a Cuban just because I go to live elsewhere? ” he asked. “ Nobody understands why you need to repatriate yourself to your personal country. ”

The term repatriation also angers Beatriz, the Miami woman who left Cuba 25 years ago but still regards the particular island as her motherland.

“ I want to regain our rights as a Cuban citizen, ” said Beatriz, who started the process this past year. “ For example , the right to inherit my mother’s house. Here, Excellent good salary and a house which i am still paying for. But my loved ones house is in Cuba, and we can lose it. ”

Being able to inherit and purchase property is one of the rights recovered by Cubans that regain their residency.

“ That’s attractive, being able to purchase a property, ” said Beatriz. The lady said she does not consider purchasing Cuba to be risky, and that the lady lost no property when the girl left because she lived along with her mother, who kept the home.

“ It would be a lot more risky to give money to another individual to buy a property for me, ” the lady added. “ You take a danger with anything you do. Right here within Miami, many of my friends lost their particular homes during the housing crisis. ”

Her short-term strategy is to retire in Cuba.

Health care

Malignancy drove Armando to return to Cuba in December 2016. A year earlier, this individual was diagnosed with stage four tummy cancer. He underwent a dangerous surgery, complicated by an infection.

Now totally recovered, Armando said in an interview from Nyc that after eight surgeries and also a round of chemotherapy, his spouse abandoned him and took their own son.

“ I used to be left alone, without money, without having to be able to get out of bed or do something, ” he said. He dropped his job, his medical insurance after which his disability payments.

His mother in Cuba acquired a humanitarian permit from the Cuban government to take him to the tropical isle.

As a foreigner within Cuba, he initially had to spend in U. S. dollars designed for his treatment at the Ciro Garcia Clinic in Havana. So he or she decided to regain his residencyeand carried on his treatment at the Oncology Medical center, also in Havana, paying within pesos.

He remained on the island for four weeks and recovered, but never prepared to stay.

“ I actually begged God not to leave me personally there, that I did not belong within Cuba, ” Armando recalled. This individual said he could not get accustomed to all of the shortages, especially of food, as well as the bad service.

“ What we Cubans are doing is trying to recuperate the rights they took far from us. No other country takes away your own rights if you leave, ” this individual said. “ I believe it was an error to punish us like that. ”

For Manuel, the particular welcome he received from Cubans and the possibility of getting to know them was obviously a plus.

He mentioned Cubans joke that when someone remaining the country they would say, “ Lola, traitor. ” But now they say, “ Lola, bring dollars. ”

Manuel said he will not believe the return of Cubans will lead to immediate changes, yet he does see it as an chance for Cubans on the island to learn concerning the lives of others who live overseas.

“ This boosts a question. Why did everyone overseas do better? ” he said.

Cubans who return furthermore regain the right to vote, this individual concluded, and may have a voice whenever political change is possible.

This is the first of the two-part report

MiamiHerald