Road to Freedom

January 1st, 2008
by Alfonso Ebanks

[private] v6-1-Our IslandsFelix had lived all his life in Castro’s Cuba so any other kind of life was unknown to him. He was born and still lived in the province of Camaguey. As a young child he lived in the town of Florida, only a few miles west of the city of Camaguey. His family moved to the city sometime later in his life. This decision was controlled by the state.

His family had been on the waiting list of the Office of Interchange for many months before the move could be completed. The Interchange Office arranges moves between people that want to move to the cities and people that want to move to other towns and villages. The interested parties simply swap living quarters, there is never a fee or rent involved because all the housing units on the islands are owned by the government. Felix was now in his late twenties and he had become dissatisfied with a system that advocates the government’s ownership of the natural resources, industry, banking, the news media, public utilities and even housing of the entire country. His spirit yearned for something else. He had heard all about the country to the north where individuals could determine their own destiny.

Felix loved his country but he decided to leave his beloved Cuba as soon as things could be arranged. His escape would have to be by homemade boat because all other means were controlled by the government. The most important item on his list of things that he must have was a small outboard motor for the boat he would build. That motor would be his means to another place and another life. A life far different from the one he was used to. From the time he was born his life had been regimented by the state and now the time had come for him to make a change. With the help of friends and family in Cuba and relatives in the USA, Felix made ready for the greatest event of his life.

It was decided that the northern route was too dangerous because it was patrolled by Cuban patrol boats and also by ships of the American Coast Guard. The route to the south was the round about way, but it was safer. They would head for the Grand Caymans and then on to Honduras from where they could arrange their overland trip to the north. The little 28 foot boat left Camaguey on a Friday night with 18 persons on board, persons that were willing to risk their life in order to create a better life for themselves. They tried to pass the southern islands in the dark but the little boat was only a few miles from the Cuban coast when the motor conked out. They got it going again before the dawn could lift its curtain of darkness that shielded them from the law.

After three days of drifting and getting the little motor to run for a few minutes at a time they were picked up by a fishing boat and they were landed on Swan’s Island.

They had somehow bypassed the Caymans but at least they were in Honduras. The military personnel on Swan Island notified their counterparts at the Navy Base in Castilla and a fisherman from Guanaja was authorized to pickup the Cubans that had been left on the Swan. For a price of two hundred dollars a head they were brought to the island of Guanaja.

The spent another few hundred dollars getting the necessary paperwork that would enable them to travel to the mainland. On the morning of the third day on Guanaja, Felix and his traveling companions waved goodbye from the upper deck of the ferry boat to the dock below where the few Cubans that live on Guanaja waved back. Their next stop would be Trujillo and then after some more money on paperwork they were off on the last leg of their journey to freedom.

It is said that the trip through Mexico is more dangerous than the first part of their voyage across the ocean. The overland trip had been uneventful, all had gone according to the plan. Felix knew that the advantage the Cubans have over the rest of the citizens of Latin America is that once they set foot on the soil of the USA, they are home free. Six days after Felix left Guanaja he arrived at the home of his cousin May in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He had beaten the odds and now a new life lay in front of him, I wish him luck and I hope he learns to appreciate and support the political system and its many freedoms that inspired his dangerous trek. Felicidades Feliberto. [/private]

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