By Martín Alesina, Economist (Universidad de Montevideo).

Yudiel sees how his pension closes. The phrase of who cleans the place resounds in his head: “It is not my fault.” He grabs the old bag that accompanied him on his journey by land from Cuba to Uruguay and walks alone through the streets of Ciudad Vieja. If he could go back in time, he would think twice about paying for six months of accommodation in advance. In the end, it was of little use when he did not have enough money to pay for his stay.

While walking to a refuge, he remembers his daughter. Three years since he saw her smile. His wife anxiously waits for the call to travel to Uruguay to meet him. His mother, ill in Cuba, prays that everything goes well.

Things are not going well. Still, the trip to Guyana, the illegal crossing through Brazil, and the three years of working two shifts of cleaning windows in Uruguay will make sense in very little time.

Uruguay has a migration policy that stands out in the region. Upon arriving in the country, people entering irregularly are not deported.

This was the case of Yudiel. He, as a refugee, obtained his residence and quickly regularized his situation. It was not that easy with his studies. His diploma in biotechnology collected dust for a long time until he finally was able to validate it and practice the profession that he is passionate about in Uruguay. He would be going back to the labs.

How many things cross the mind of an immigrant who fights for a better destiny, even working below his skills and training.

Life was not easy in Cuba either. He used to dive to hunt crabs for the cook at the hotel where Yudiel worked, where they were prepared to sell later to tourists at the beach. He used to organize trips to close beaches not included in the ‘all-inclusive’ promotions… Whatever was necessary to put food on the table.

At the refuge in Montevideo, that memory made him feel confident about his decision to travel to Uruguay. Things were not as easy as he expected or as he was told. He thought of all the families who accompanied him years ago on that journey in trucks with more hope than space. He thought of all the families that came afterward.

Things would change soon for him, finally. Yudiel kept on remembering. He was defeated by sleep, but never by adversity.

“CERES Analyses – A Republic of Immigrants.”