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Maria Matienzo Puerto: I dreamed once that I was a butterfly who had come from Africa and discovered that I had been alive for thirty years. From that time on, I constructed my world while I was sleeping: I was born in a magic city like Havana; I dedicated myself to journalism; I wrote and edited books for children; I met to discuss art with wonderful people; I fell in love with a woman. Of course, there are certain points of coincidence with the reality of my waking life and it’s that I prefer the silence of reading and the pleasure of a good movie.

Lupe, A Map of Frustrations

August 6, 2012 | Print Print |

Maria Matienzo Puerto

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — When Lupe came home and asked whose billfold was on the table, her husband replied: “I found it in the street.” He didn’t seem to mind that she found him completely naked or that the apartment had a different smell.

Confused, she walked into the room and was met with a shock: There was another woman hiding under their bed.

There was no explosion — she didn’t want the neighbors to find out. She gave the woman time to come out, while Lupe’s disappointment remained enclosed in her apartment.

This happened when their daughter Legna was 14, when the Special Period crisis had just begun.

I imagine Lupe reassessed her life and came to the conclusion that she had nowhere to run.

Her childhood home was a room in a tenement, where her four sisters lived with their husbands and some of the children who had begun to come along.

Their present apartment belonged to her husband, while she — a teacher — had no chance (no matter how outstanding she was) of being “granted” an apartment of her own. In short, the choice was to take a dry swallow and keep looking forward.

Her revenge would be to try to see that her daughter didn’t suffer her same fate. She taught Legna that it wasn’t worth falling in love with any man, that they were are all the same, and that the best thing was to have a relationship for money.

But the strategy didn’t work out for Legna very well either.

Then there came the alcoholic stage of Lupe’s husband, and once again she recognized she had nowhere else to run.

By then, the economic crisis had eliminated the chance of one getting an apartment on their work merits or through participation on a microbrigade construction crew – those weren’t even dreams any more.

Buying a home was still impossible, due to it being illegal and for the lack of money, like always.

Maybe she hadn’t been as trusting in the revolution as she was in love, in her husband, or in what she could have done through her own effort.

Right now she has no aspirations other than winning the lottery and cursing her husband for everything that life has forced her to bear.

This is another story about women and the frustrations of a “socialist” state that prioritizes and encourages the rights of men more than it does women (though it claims otherwise).


What's your opinion?

  • Mercedes

    You might not believe it, but I was talking about this same thing with my sister a few days ago. She was telling me about a friend from her job who left. It had to do with a case of abuse. We ended up asking ourselves what happens in cases like that in Cuba, where the housing problem is so big and it’s impossible to rent and escape the environment of violence.