FAQs on why I left Cuba and came to Serbia, to have a normal life 🇨🇺👉🇷🇸
Almost 2 months ago, just after the successful acquisition of my VPN service, I moved to Serbia to start a new life. Since arriving in the country, most Serbians ask around the same questions, they find it amazing that a Cuban is quitting "the Caribbean paradise" to come to "a place like this".
The first night, after being scammed by a taxi man ($100 USD for 5km), when I explained my situation to the motel's owner, she said "you came to Serbia... searching for a better life, here? really?"
That was my first touch with Serbian disinformation about Cuba's 2022 reality. That's why I'm writing this post, so I can share it with my coworkers and any new Serbians I get to know and start asking the most frequently asked questions about my decision.
Did leave left Cuba? Really? Why?
In short words: Cuba is like today, in 2022, like Serbia was in the 1990s.
Here are some shared and non-shared points, for you to have an approximate idea of the situation.
- We're having 12-hour blackouts each day, sometimes more. Some of my friends are having only 4h to 6h of total electricity in the day, and the remaining time is a blackout.
- Economic crisis and hyperinflation. Our national currency, the Cuban Peso (CUP) is devalued, the prices are inflated, and Cubans can not pay with their salaries or currency in the governmental stores, to buy basic products like food and cleaning. The regime invented stores on which you can only pay with an invented virtual currency equivalent to the USD or EUR, which they call "MLC", the acronym for "Freely Convertible Currency", that Cubans can only receive from an international deposit, as a way that the government has to get fresh forex currencies. The bad economical and political management has taken the country to a state in which we're worst than Haití, and are among the most inflated countries in the world.
- The food and other basic products are scarce and run shorter every single day. Imagine yourself without basic nutrients for your normal health, with terrible alimentation. You eat what you can find. That's happening in Cuba today.
- We're in a war. Wait, what? Yes, Cuba is in war with itself. The Government is destroying the country and the people day after day, making the people poorer and poorer. There's much repression, because we have protests all days throughout the country. Lots of childs and young people in jail just for claiming freedom and democracy. According to the 2021 Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Cuba is the country with the highest rate of people deprived of liberty, lots of them are political prisoners.
There is a lot of "happier places in the world". Why Serbia?
First thing, believe me, Serbia is way better than Cuba in everything right now.
Second, I simply made a study about the free visa countries for Cubans, and Serbia just showed up as one of the best. Cost of living is balanced and affordable, people is nice and welcoming, most of them speak English too, the economy is strong within the IT sector and there is a lot of opportunities.
Sure, there's other stronger countries, but they will not let Cubans in, because we're considered emigrants all around the world. Our population is massively leaving the country (those who can afford it, of course).
How much time can you stay here?
Free visa permission for Cubans allows up to 90 days, and can be extended to a temporary residence permission by opening a company or being hired by one. My personal case: I was thinking about opening a new one, but the logical path was to start from scratch and join a good company, like I luckily did, was accepted, and now I'm happy with them.
How much did you paid to come and stay here?
Around $1.7K USD, only in flight tickets. But, counting rent and some unexpected expenses, more than $5K in total, in this two months.
I'd love to go to Cuba, is it too expensive?
Yes, it is. My advice is not to do it now, better wait until the regime fall down and we get democracy, and fix the country. If you go now, you probably would have to pay too much in hotel, transportation and trips.
But, if you go, my advice is not stay in a hotel, because you will be in a bubble, isolated from the Cuba's real life.
If you want to feel the deep Cuba, better stay in a private home, in some city, and move around, speak with locals, see the reality with your own eyes and notice how devastated the country is.
Also, take health measures, always cover yourself with a mask, and bring your own pills, because medicine is scarce to, even though you're a foreigner.
Did you knew anyone before coming to Serbia?
No. I just came, and had no friends or colleagues here. The only thing that I knew was the motel on which I would stay, nothing more.
Eventually I found some Cubans and started relating with Serbians. It took one month to find a rent in Belgrade, and a couple of weeks to find a job.
Honestly, I was scared, but even though I had to do it.
Do you feel better now?
Sure! Besides of my pain related to the Cuba situation, and because my family is there, I feel better because I can now finally recover my career and health.
At least I don't get interrupted by blackouts or internet issues here. There's enough food, in affordable prices, the services are fair and the software industry is developed and widespread.
I'm thankful to God and everyone who has helped me during all of this transition.