It is known that the migratory urge of thousands and thousands of Cubans has led the natives of this small island to the planet’s most bizarre latitudes. Thus, you may find a child of this burning tropic island happily enduring the most stoic and cruel freezing temperatures in Sweden, Canada or Finland, to name only a few extreme examples. Other dissimilar places throughout the land have been many Cubans’ destination, to establish permanent residence during half a century of steady exodus that seems to emulate that of the Hebrew people. They say some emigrate for political reasons and most do it for economic reasons, as if in Cuba it were possible to delineate the economic disaster from the government’s disastrous policies. But, after all, any place where they can breathe in a bit of progress, some improvement in the quality of life and, above all, the slightest hint of freedom or opportunities for the development of personal initiative shakes the entrepreneurial spirit of Cubans, fed up with the absence of a future and with promises of sacrifice with which they are presented from the cradle to the grave.
However, I can only wonder at the new exodus variant that has prevailed for some time. The destination is, no more and no less, one of the most disadvantaged countries of this hemisphere, or, in any event, one that is not very promising for someone wishing for progress: Ecuador. All of a sudden, many Cubans have developed a growing enthusiasm for settling in Ecuador, and, apparently, it is relatively easy, according to accounts of a good number of people I know (and from people I don’t know but know about) that have already taken the definitive step and have decidedly left –after quick and efficient paperwork -mysteriously provided by the immigration authorities of both countries- legally and quietly seated in seat on a plane, to settle there, among the Andean Mountain Range, in the middle of the world and very many kilometers away from every Latin emigrant’s biggest dream: The United States.
To my knowledge, the number of Ecuadorians who emigrate is comparable to the number of Cubans who do so. For example, I understand that, in just Spain, Ecuadorians are, if not the largest group of immigrants, at least one of the most numerous: several hundred thousand. So, if even working age Ecuadorians are looking for a better economic destiny in foreign lands, one can imagine the desperation of those Cubans who follow the promise of a better life in a country where –just like in Cuba- money remittances from those who are away is one of the most important economic assets.
Anyway, if the exodus of Ecuadorians to foreign countries and the influx of Cubans in Ecuador continues, and taking into account that the population of that country is quite small, we must consider that we are witnessing a process of re-colonization of that territory, this time by the Islanders. As far as I’m concerned, I wish them every success in the world, as far as it is possible to be successful in Ecuador. I hope they thrive and fulfill their aspirations, though, of course, the results will never be comparable to the colonization of Florida, lost by the Spanish in the XVIII century when they used it as currency in exchange for Havana, a city snatched by the perfidious English and recaptured three centuries later by the power of tens of thousands of Pepe Antonio’s heirs.
Illustration: Luis Orlando Photograph