The horror story of two Cuban migrants on the Belarusian border
They wanted to reach Spain to escape poverty, but are stuck in Belarus. Having entered Poland, the local police sent them back across the border. The Belarusian guards then locked them up in a prison, torturing them. Now they are wandering around the capital Minsk.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - Two Cuban migrants have recounted their vicissitudes at the border post of Bruzgakh, in Belarus, to the BBC Russian service. The pilgrimage of Daniel and Adrian began in Moscow, from where tehy set out to reach the nightmare of the Belarusian-Polish border. Now the two refugees do not know what their fate will be, whether forced repatriation to Havana or the realization of their dream: refuge in Spain.
The two Cubans, aged 29 and 26, were able to sleep and wash for the first time in days, when they were brought back to Minsk from the border prison camp, spending the night in an apartment, where they were joined by journalists. In the previous two weeks they had been in prison with Yemenis, Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans.
The refugees come from countries far apart, geographically and culturally, but united by a common destiny: misery, local conflicts, political instability and the absolute lack of a future. All this has spilled over in the last few months on the Belarusian-Polish border, where all the tensions between the West and the dictatorial regime of the Belarusian "batka" (dictator) Aleksandr Lukašenko have been concentrated.
Daniel worked as a driver in the Cuban province of Matansas, and lived with his mother in a tiny apartment. He liked the work, but the salary was insufficient: 2,400 pesos (less than 100 euros per month). After paying taxes and alimony for his seven-year-old son and six-year-old daughter, there was not a peso left in his pocket. "In Cuba, all prices depend on the dollar rate," Daniel says. "Salaries were not enough even before, but then the situation has become untenable, many people are looking for illegal income, but all this leads to hunger."
So Daniel decided to leave Cuba, which was not easy: without a visa, with a Cuban passport you can reach about thirty countries, the richest of which is Russia. In Moscow, Daniel got to know Adrian. The compatriot explained to him that some people proposed an easy transit to Germany through Belarus and Poland. It turned out later that it was a Cuban criminal gang asking for ,000 for a lift in a car to the western Belarusian border.
"My ex-girlfriend who lives in Germany lent me the money for the trip to Russia," Daniel continues, "and I agreed that I would pay her back after I found a job in Spain" - where Adrian also wanted to go. The car trip from Moscow actually lasted almost a month, covering the 700 km to reach the border. The cars were changed every 100 km, until a Belarusian driver suddenly braked, opened the door and made the gesture of fleeing into the woods.
The two young men wandered for a long time in the darkness, until they came across the border's barbed wire curtain. Covering themselves in blood, Daniel and Adrian eventually broke through and crossed to the other side, wandering around in the no-man's land between Belarus and Poland. The Polish barrier, some tens of meters away, proved impossible to penetrate, and from the other side peeped the threatening faces of Polish border guards.
The two Cubans alked along the Polish security fence for about thirty kilometers, sleeping rough in the woods, until they found a section of barbed wire under repair and managed to cross to the other side. In Moscow they were told that it was enough to get on any bus to Warsaw, and then get to Germany, but the Polish police found them first, sending them back to Belarus.
The Belarusian police thre the two young men into the border prison camp and then back to Minsk after a prolonged beating, threatening them with weapons and finally locking them up in a van, until they were dumped on the street in the Belarusian capital, where their odyssey will have to find a new beginning.