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Rosa Martinez: I am another Havana Times contributing writer, university professor and mother of two beautiful and spoiled girls, who are my greatest joy. My favorite passions are reading and to write and thanks to HT I’ve been able to satisfy the second. I hope my posts contribute towards a more inclusive and more just Cuba. I hope that someday I can show my face along with each of my posts, without the fear that they will call me a traitor, because I’m not one.

Of Course it’s Possible to be a Millionaire in Cuba

July 12, 2017 | Print Print |

Rosa Martinez

Foto: Patricio Fernandez

HAVANA TIMES — Being a millionaire is the dream of many, I can’t say that it hasn’t been my own too. Some children fantasize about having a lot of money to take water and food to starving children in exploited Africa; others thought about helping those most in need on the planet, like for example about investing in the research for a cure for many different life-threatening diseases.

But, when people grow up, their dreams change and being a millionaire is no longer associated with the idea of helping so many people, but rather your immediate family, that is to say your parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces perhaps.

Time continues to pass us by and maturity makes us selfish and we think more about ourselves, and we associate this large sum of money with having a nice house, car, trips and all kinds of possible comforts.

I don’t know which of these thoughts Fernan had, a great friend of mine, when he received a message on Facebook with the news that he would be sent a million and a half euros, on the sole condition that he would use, at least, half a million on some kind of social project here in Cuba, preferably linked to orphaned children.

I was the only person he entrusted this good news too, I was flattered; the truth is that he didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, especially his wife who lives dreaming about nice things that he would never be able to give her, at least with his poor salary.

When he told me, his voice appeared to be calm like it always did, the usual affection he had for me, but his heart was thumping, his eyes were alive too.

If the news is true, I will give you several thousand so you can set up your own business so you don’t have to work so hard – he told me – and I’ll buy you a scooter which I know you want so badly.

When it comes to money, I don’t trust anything, because I haven’t been so lucky when it comes to these kinds of gifts, much less for a good business – but why do I have to be so pessimistic, I told myself.

Fernando isn’t an ambitious person, far from it, but whose eyes wouldn’t get wide with the news of a million euros to spend and to buy the things that they wouldn’t be able to buy even in a hundred lifetimes in Cuba.

First of all, he doesn’t have a house, he lives with his wife and two children in his in-laws’ home – living together has been OK, but it doesn’t compare to having your own place, most Cubans know what I’m talking about.

Secondly, a car, my God, a car – nobody in his family has even been able to buy a moped, they come from a line of workers who have to work hard and fighters like he calls himself; well I come from the same kind of family.

Thirdly, set up a secure business so that money can grow or, at least, not be spent so quickly to help out his parents who live in very cramped and poor conditions. Everybody knows that whenever you get money and you don’t invest it in something, it will always end one day…

I imagine that these were the ideas that passed through Fernan’s head – the truth is he never told me – when a 70-something year old English lady, a friend of his on Facebook, told him in an unexpected message that she wanted to send him a million and a half euros, because she was very sick and she wanted to leave this sum of money in the hands of somebody who would use it for good.

My friend’s first reaction was to ask her why she didn’t give it to her children or some close relative, but she replied that nobody would use it better than him, plus her children would receive a good inheritance.

After so much insistence… our future millionaire, I mean to say, Fernan, let the lady do all the paperwork, the contract with a Swiss bank where the sum was kept, from which he received a missive from the executive director (manager), a letter which I saw with my own two eyes.

The next thing he had to do was to apply for a passport, one of the requirements – something I never understood, as he wouldn’t be traveling anywhere, but anyhow… a bank card too where he could receive money from abroad and other documents. Then, he had to wait…

After getting his hands on all the documents he needed, a whole month went by, and as he hadn’t heard anything back from the English lady, he wrote to her and she responded that as this was a large sum, the process would take a bit of time, that he should patiently wait.

He didn’t want to appear impatient, so he waited two, three more months. He got in touch with the woman again and she said the same thing.

Five months have passed by since her last message, and even though I have told him lots of times that scams of this kind are common on the Internet  – I did so from the very beginning -, he didn’t believe me and continued to patiently wait for a million euros that would change his life, mine too, as he promised to buy me a scooter so that I could comfortably get to work.


What's your opinion?

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    The people who scam on the internet have no conscience. They lie and steal without any form of concern for their victims.

  • Ronin

    THIS IS A SCAM. It runs all over the world, and it eventually follows that they will ask you to send the donor a small sum of money so “they could arrange for the money transfer.”

    Or another method is they send you a check for example, a $3000.00 check, and then they tell you to keep $2000.00 and send them the remaining $1000.00 so they can pay for the money transfer fees etc. Low and behold, once you have done this, the bank notifies you that the check was fraudulent and you end up owning the bank $3000.00

    The little 70-something English lady, is probably some scam artist a-hole living in some other country, or even in Cuba!!!!!!!!

    Warn your friend and as it has been said time and time again, “If it’s too good to be true, it is.”

    Shame on ALL these scam artists.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Yes, it could be from as far away as India or Pakistan.

  • Sven Normand

    Yes, of course it’s a scam!

    But as Rosa Martinez is probably not able to read the English version of Havana Times, perhaps not even the Spanish version, our warnings probably will not reach her or her friend Fernando.

    Personally I have received such messages by emails at least a hundred times.

    For example:

    A rich British lady (who did not know my name… wow!) had bequeathed to me all her fortune (an amount of 30 million dollars… excuse the smallness of the sum ;)) “because I was a person with a good heart ” on the condition that I give half to poor orphans. The email was sent to me by her lawyer who lived in an African country… And this “lawyer” uses a free Yahoo email rather than a company email like support@lawyercompany.com

    But in this particular case presented by Rosa Martinez…

    The thing I find most disgusting about all this is that these scammers are attacking Cubans who are perhaps more vulnerable than us because:

    1) they are more lacking money than we are (we believe what we want to believe)

    2) they are less used to the Internet and its pitfalls than we are.

    Revolting!

  • Sven Normand

    I hope there will be a follow up to your article, Rosa. I’m curious about whether your friend is going to get something. ;) Or, more likely, how he will react when he realizes he will never receive anything.

    I think that broken dreams must be particularly cruel in Cuba.