About six months ago I started to make travel arrangements for the minor son of a friend who lives abroad, and for that purpose she awarded my power of attorney to represent her first-born. I would like to note that on “our beloved planet,” for some things they are minors — for example to buy or sell, or to make a will — but for others, being imprisoned or executed for having committed an offense against national security, they only have to be 16.

The first thing I had to do was to go to the civil registry to get a documents proving birth, single status, lack of a criminal record, etc. This meant, of course, interminable lines, expenses to have them stamped, little gifts (i.e. bribes), and above all lots and lots of patience.

Once I acquired the national documents, I had to stand in more interminable lines, to legalize them (all paid for in convertible currency), at the State agency dedicated to this. Afterwards I presented them to the embassy that was going to receive him, in this case Spain, where the lines are amazing and the treatment offered is not the best. I had to go there several times because the information received was inaccurate and the documents asked for were difficult to get.

Once all the paperwork with the embassy in question in finished, then comes, in the case of males, the worst nightmare: release from military service.

Having already completed these steps, we just had to go through the crushing machine at the   Immigration Office. I have to admit that the treatment there is friendly. But it’s also good to note that despite this nice treatment, the efficiency isn’t the best, because almost all the personnel is new and is not well-trained.

You must come armed with patience and optimism, because you’re going to have to stand in those infernal lines many times: sometimes because you don’t have a document they didn’t tell you about, others because every time you go they ask for something new. In short, you have to go to the place many times, instead of the two times you thought: once to deliver the request and once to get the answer.

Thus, lurching along bad-humoredly from line to line, time passes and you become exhausted, and are paying sums you hadn’t counted on. None of them ask your pardon for the procedural blunders they commit, and they all act as if they’re doing you a favor and not violating your most sacred rights: to be able to freely enter and leave your own country as many times as necessary, without their preventing it.

Finally, today after so many months, so many mistakes, and so much physical and mental exhaustion, they have awarded to the boy I am representing his longed-for exit permit, to be able to be reunited with his mother, who lives abroad. This has been just like the case of another Elian, but in reverse.

November 21 2012

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