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Paula Henriquez: Since childhood I have been told I should be careful what I say in public. "Think before you speak, especially in front of others," my mother would say, and it was more of a plea than a scolding. Even today I hear her and I obey her, just that I do not speak, I write. Letters and words are my escape, my exit and daily catharsis, which printed on paper, revive me. And this picture is my refuge.

Things Don’t Just Fall Down from the Sky

January 18, 2017 |

Paula Henriquez

What’s new this year? Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — New year, new life is a popular saying which is normally used when a year comes to its end.  And for many people it is, it’s a new year and a new start and, at the very least, it gives them a little more hope than last year did.

In certain countries, these days are national holidays, streets and homes are decorated and even people’s hearts are lit up with joy. In Cuba… well there are some people who can decorate their homes, but streets are sometimes, almost never, decorated…

However, in Cuba celebrating New Years isn’t precisely to look ahead to the new year that is just beginning, at least not for our government. The traditions my mother speaks to me about have been left in the past. She remembers that a few years before the Revolution triumphed, her family used to get together, decorate the house, make a great meal and it was a time for celebrations, being happy and coming together. Now, she has to make do with her memories. And I tell her that at least she has those: memories.

When a new year begins, people set themselves goals. Some people want to lose weight, others want to finish their university degrees, others to finally get the job they’ve been wanting forever and many others just want change, a new start. And I ask myself, can you have a fresh start here? I believe a lucky break would let you… But there aren’t so many lucky breaks going around… You have to work for a new life, as the Spanish once said.

And this is what a lot of Cubans are doing: paving the way for a new life. What do we Cubans need for a new life? Some people will answer that we need to sort out the basics and that that alone would be the start of a new life. Others will say a change in the system we have, others believe that leaving the country will solve their problems. In short, there are many differing opinions.

What remains true however in all of this is that you have to look for a new life, wherever we are, working hard, because things don’t just fall down from the sky.

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