It was said countless times in the lead up to the November presidential election: “If Trump wins, I’m leaving the country.” Even celebrities, from Cher and Miley Cyrus, to Whoopie Goldberg and Samuel L. Jackson, said they would flee before seeing Donald Trump seated in the Oval Office.
But November 8 came, Trump won, and none of them left.
Now, at least one person is fulfilling her promise to leave the country under Trump: Marsha Scarbrough, a 70-year-old from California who says she’s ready to start “a great adventure” at the end of her life.
“I am not planning to return,” she told Univision over the phone. “I have lived in the United States for 70 years, but I want to try something different.”
A country of “fear”
Born in 1947 in Los Angeles, Scarbrough grew up in a Republican family but always considered herself liberal. She has lived in Los Angeles and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
She studied journalism but ended up working in Hollywood. For 20 years, she worked as an Assistant Director, including with well-known directors like Clint Eastwood. She has also authored two books.
The Californian says she departs the United States unsure whether the recent presidential election was fair. “I think Trump and the Russians hacked the election,” she says. “I’m not sure they were legitimate elections. We need more information to know what happened.”
On March 7, she will leave behind her life in the United States and travel to Madrid. She’s seeing a different United States from the one she always knew, of ideals like “diversity and coexistence,” she says. “We are a melting pot."
For her, Trump's victory reflects the deep "fear" in some layers of society, but ultimately points to the billionaire as the culprit, the orchestrator of a campaign that pit people “against each other, and took advantage of it."
In Spain, she plans to travel and return to her passion for literature.
A retirement visa
Scarbrough’s decision to settle in Spain wasn’t difficult. “In recent years I’ve visited many places. I love Mexico, Central America, South America, but it was in Spain where I learned the ‘joie de vivre’ (exuberant enjoyment of life),” she says. She also likes the weather in Madrid and the vibrant cultural environment of the city.
When researching possible options for moving abroad, Scarbrough found information about a 'residence visa for retirees.’ She was required to justify that she had an annual income of 25,500 euros (more than $27,000) and no criminal record. In addition, he had to prove that she would not be a burden on the Spanish health system and that she had a place to stay in Madrid.
“It was a long and complicated bureaucratic process to obtain my visa,” she says. “The process takes time. Even if you’re rich like Cher or Whoopie Goldberg you have to follow a legal process to live in another country.”
So far, she doesn’t know anyone else who plans to follow her lead, even though many people she knows don’t like Trump. “It will all depend on how events unfold,” she says.