Children are being left behind as the tsunami of emigration from Cuba grows.

There is a large-scale exodus from Cuba. Many Cubans believe they have no choice but to leave their country in pursuit of better chances abroad due to a political and economic crisis that has been made worse by the effects of the Covid pandemic.

Young Cubans, especially young professionals, are leaving the country in large numbers.

The number of Cuban immigrants entering the US on land across the border with Mexico and by sea has reached the hundreds of thousands. US Customs and Border Protection reports a significant increase in border interactions with Cuban nationals from 39,000 in 2021 to 224,000 in 2022.

This number is greater than the sum of the largest waves of Cuban immigration throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Because of the high risk involved in both land and sea migration, many people opt to leave their children behind.

The parents are hoping that once they have legalized their immigration status, their children will be able to join them, but this process can take years. To make up for the physical absence, they toil to earn enough money to be able to send gifts and money.

Many of the survivors are housed with blood relations.

Children who grow up with uncles and grandparents after their parents leave the nation report higher levels of rage, grief, and loss of family identification values, according to a 2017 study by Cuban psychologists.

According to the researchers, this issue “makes this problem one of the most frequent causes for psychological consultation in the baby area in Cuba” due to the large number of instances.

In the impoverished area of El Pocitos in Havana, Cataleya Larrinaga Guerra, 9, lives with her younger sister Caterine, 7, and their grandparents.

Cataleya Larrinaga Guerra, age 9, is seen standing in the front entryway of her grandparents’ house.
When Caterine was a month old, their father, Vladimir, fled Cuba.

Four years later, Yanet, their mother, boarded a plane for Panama, where she would start her journey to the US, where she would eventually meet the girls’ father.

Since that time, Vladimir and Yanet have been residing in Austin, Texas, in the hopes that their application for family reunification will be approved so that they may bring their daughters to live with them.

PICTURE SOURCE: NATALIA FAVRE Cataleya and Caterine Larrinaga Guerra roller skating
Vladimir and Yanet send money from the US each month to help their kids in Cuba with living needs. The daughters also get to chose the toys that their mother will buy for them in Austin and bring to Cuba later through video conversations.

Image Source: NATALIA FAVRE Cataleya Larrinaga Guerra counts the money her parents sent from the US.
Their main caregiver and granddad Alfonso adds, “It’s quite hard, they do sense the loss.

“The youngest child begins to cry and expresses a want to be near her mother whenever something negative occurs. Parents are parents, and the girls need them even though we offer them all the love in the world “Alfonso continues.

Alfonso claims that Caterine began referring to him and his wife as “mom and dad,” and that they frequently had to explain to her who they are as her grandparents and that they are working hard to get back together soon.

Caterine Larrinaga Guerra and Cataleya complete their assignments.
NATALIA FAVRE, IMAGE SOURCE
The 9-year-old Alexander Gonzales León resides in Guanabacoa, a neighborhood outside of Havana, in a two-story home. His parents, grandparents, great-uncles, great-grandparents, and cousin all shared the home there until three years ago.

Alexander, however, is being taken care of by his great-aunt Mercedes and great-grandmother and the majority of the rooms are empty. In the US resides the rest of the family.

Alexander’s bedroom is themed after Micky Mouse.
NATALIA FAVRE, IMAGE SOURCE
Lourdes, his mother, used to travel to Guyana or Panama to shop for necessities that were unavailable in Cuba. To get money, she would also resell things at home.

She stayed in Mexico for a while and applied for the documents required for her kid to accompany her. Yet, things did not turn out the way she had hoped.

Due of the Covid epidemic, the borders were closed, and Lourdes gave birth to her second child in Mexico.

The family as a whole decided that it would be best if she entered the US and Alexander remained in Cuba until she could legally join her.

Alexander makes daily video calls to his mum to visit her. Nevertheless it has been three years since he last gave her a hug.

During a video call with his mother, Alex and his great-aunt Mercedez converse.
NATALIA FAVRE, IMAGE SOURCE
His mother sends money each month to his great-aunt Mercedes, who has been put in charge of the youngster.

She claims that Lourdes sends her everything, including food, clothing, and even school supplies.

Alexander gets to see his mother on the screen of Mercedes’ phone, so she claims that he does not notice her absence all that much.

He only says, “You should have let me leave with my mother,” after I reprimand him.

Alexander is confident that he will soon visit his younger brother in the States and be reunited with his mother there. He informs his great-aunt, “I won’t be in Cuba anymore next year.

A year ago, Eyko Rodrguez Lara’s parents emigrated to Russia in quest of a better life.

On his way to school, Eyko Rodrguez Lara PICTURE SOURCE, NATALIA FAVRE
Eyko now resides with his two-year-old sister Elizabeth, their two grandparents Lourdes and Raisa, and their two great-grandmothers. The two women share responsibility for raising their grandchildren and are housed together.

Eyko sits among the kids, dejected.
NATALIA FAVRE, IMAGE SOURCE
Eyko started experiencing anxiety and a skin issue after his parents moved to Russia. His grandma took him to see a psychologist, who advised them that the boy’s issues were brought on by the fact that his parents were not around.

To deal with his anxieties, Eyko has begun taking art classes at a cultural center in Havana.

On September 17, 2022, Eyko drew a house at a cultural workshop in Havana, Cuba. Every other day, Eyko goes to these.
NATALIA FAVRE, IMAGE SOURCE
Elizabeth, his modest sister, has developed a strong bond with her maternal grandmother Lourdes.

Image source: NATALIA FAVRE, Cuba
The grandmothers are hoping that the parents of the kids will soon be allowed to move to Russia legally and take their kids with them. But they are aware that it can take a while.

Raisa claims that her daughter regrets having to leave her kids behind. She claims that her despair is causing her hair to fall out since she misses them so much.

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