Today I once again had to go to the La Lonja del Comercio in Old Havana. This time I took my sister, who suffers with her knee and has little mobility.

There, in a place behind the building, are all those citizens who have been called for interviews or to submit petitions for Spanish citizenship, based on having a grandparent from Spain. My sister was in the latter group.

When the time of the summons arrive, they call your name and surnames. They show you to a room where a tall black man, very nice, gives you a series of explanations about how to fill out the documents or even helps you with something new (which is not his job) in case you’re mistaken about some data.

He then explains how you must submit the papers, the order of the waiting line, and tells you, now, those who have the petitions can go into a little room, where it’s very crowded and hot, as if you were riding in those buses called Camels, only the advantage is, these Camels are going to take you to Spain. Up that point it went very well, but then the problems started:

In the case of grandparents, like mine, who never became Cuban citizens, who never worked for anyone (they were self-employed), and who never registered with any governmental office, how can you get a document that proves they were Spanish, but without it you can’t do the paperwork. You have to show the presence of a grandparent in Cuba, they say, but isn’t it enough to show the birth certificate of their daughter where the grandparent shows up as the person who wrote it? Is it not enough to have a marriage certificate of this grandfather, with the grandmother of the applicant? Or last but not least the death certificate and the cemetery papers that show that the grandparents died and is buried in Cuba? Is there any change that in 1912 there was artificial insemination and the Internet. Then, gentlemen, how could my grandfather have accomplished all these acts of presence without stepping foot in the country?

Now tell me the truth: You don’t believe that if the Spanish here in our homeland, given so many difficulties of establishing themselves, we would be the descendants of God knows what ethnicity. Nothing, when the forms and the paperwork are finally finished, if I am successful, it wouldn’t be more than chopped meat with olive oil.

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