Hi. I would like to keep my name confidential as there is the possibility of backlash from both the Trinidadian and Cuban governments if my name is released.
I am one of those studying and stuck in Cuba at the moment. Just about all of us here have sent emails both individually and collectively to the Minister of National Security. We have all received the same response.
Borders are closed. Stay safe.
That reply is not at all comforting.
We have seen our pleas and efforts on display in the news back at home, yet we are still not given any idea as to what will be done for us.
A few days ago our PM was asked about us and what is being done for us. He said that there is nothing that can be done for us at the moment as there are no flights from Trinidad to Cuba. I do not know why he said that as this is not true from what I know. Caribbean Airlines is offering repatriation flights. In addition, in case anyone makes any nonsensical claims, before the pandemic they had flights to Cuba, so no one can claim that the airline is not familiar with the route. All that is needed is permission from the government of Trinidad and Tobago.
Things are getting more desperate for us by the day. I am at the point of making my own hand soap with powdered soap and shampoo as I do not know when next I might be able to find bars of soap. Milk (which we might find once a month) is rationed 2 cartons per person and only sold if you live within the area. If you do not live in the area, too bad. And because of how scarce the milk is, the lines are long. As in several hours long. If you want milk it is a whole day thing. Pack your lunch.
For fruits and vegetables you had better be prepared to wait in the sun or rain for half an hour or more. And for a week simple things like cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce could not be found.
What is even more difficult is that certain essentials are available now only in Cuban markets, called Bodegas, that are only for Cuban citizens. So we cannot get access to things like rice, sugar, soap or toothpaste now because they are not available in the other markets.
The government is choosing to repatriate citizens from other Caribbean territories giving them priority, saying that they are in government institutions. I do not understand how they can then neglect us when our situation is even more dire by being in a country with a trade embargo and a foreign language. We have indicated in previous emails what the situation is like, yet they give us no priority.
Several Caribbean countries with less resources than T&T have already repatriated or are in the process of repatriating their students and other citizens from here. St. Lucia, Dominica and St. Vincent have already repatriated their students. The Jamaica, St. Kitts and Antigua governments are in the process of planning their repatriations and the students from St. Kitts and Antigua apparently are receiving free transport. Yet our country with a national airline is offering us no transport, let alone free transport up to now.
I want it to be clear that I do not say these things to bash the Cubans. They do an amazing job with what little they have with the US embargo in place. My point is that we are Trinbagonians and we deserve to be at home during this crisis. The government says that they have a responsibility to protect the citizens that are in the country. Well I say that their responsibility to their citizens does not end once we leave T&T soil. They have a responsibility to us, here, as well which they are neglecting.
Student suffering in Cuba