Cuban independent journalist Abraham Jimenez Enoa, in his book ‘The Hidden Island’, compiles a series of articles in which he makes an intimate and surreal X-ray of the marginal life in Cuba, unknown even to many Cubans, and his own departure from the country after being ‘regulated’ by the regime for five years. According to Jiménez Enoa, leaving Cuba is different from leaving any other country for the first time, as it is to fall into the world and see that Cuba is an island kidnapped by a political system that has caused the country to be still in the 20th century.
The author unveils the existence of diverse characters and communities that border on sub-reality, such as ‘the aquatic ones’, Ernesto, a jinetero, the boxer Namibia Flores, the birdman, Argelia Fellove, a lesbian who has survived extreme violence, and the dissidence of biologist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, who has questioned the official lies of the Cuban government for decades. The book is not an ideological or activist text but a mirror that reflects personal and collective stories, some of which have convulsed the island in recent years.
The author states that he was interested in telling the subway Cuba story, which is not in the media, and to do so he used characters and voices that bordered on subreality. Jiménez Enoa, who for years has suffered arbitrary arrests and harassment by State Security agents for his work as an independent journalist, refers to this epilogue, in which he relates how he left Cuba. When he was “taken out”, he received a phone call informing him that he could pick up his passport. He also decided to explain what it has meant for his “mental health and his family” to leave the island and to get used to “capitalism”.
Jiménez Enoa belongs to that generation of young people who saw in the ‘thaw’ of relations between the US and Cuba the possibility for changes to take place in Cuba, something that went hand in hand with the arrival of the internet. Although the arrival of Trump to the US presidency in 2016 and the “breaking” of the Cuban government changed the future prospects of that generation, civil society remained alive, giving rise to a brutal clash between it and the government.