2012-10-17 03:09:33 UTC
sick and incapacitated) is consciously and deliberately letting its
subjects to travel abroad without and exit visa. A mass exodus will
follow immediately. Of course, the USA will have to house most of them
as additional burden to its economy which is in trouble nowadays;
their relatives are in the USA already. That is what Raul Castro and
his cronies want; reduce the population. Because, with its Russian
sponsor is not around anymore for free support and other communist
dictatorship China does not give a damn, and N.Korea itself is
starving. Cuban communist dictatorship cannot employ, provide housing
and clothing, or feed the people under its rule anymore. It cannot
provide most basic needs of the people. Bitching about America, Raul
Castro finally learned, does not do any good either.
Govt to let Cubans travel freely
By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ and PETER ORSI | Associated Press 10/16/2012
HAVANA (AP) — The Cuban government announced Tuesday that it will
eliminate a half-century-old restriction that requires citizens to get
an exit visa to leave the country.
The decree that takes effect Jan. 14 will eliminate a much-loathed
bureaucratic procedure that has kept many Cubans from traveling or
"These measures are truly substantial and profound," said Col.
Lamberto Fraga, Cuba's deputy chief of immigration, at a morning news
conference. "What we are doing is not just cosmetic."
Under the new measure announced in the Communist Party daily Granma,
islanders will only have to show their passport and a visa from the
country they are traveling to.
It is the most significant advance this year in President Raul
Castro's five-year plan of reforms that has already seen the
legalization of home and car sales and a big increase in the number of
Cubans owning private businesses.
Migration is a highly politicized issue in Cuba and beyond its
Under the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, the United States allows nearly
all Cubans who reach its territory to remain. Granma published an
editorial blaming the travel restrictions imposed in 1961 on U.S.
attempts to topple the island's government, plant spies and recruit
its best-educated citizens.
"It is because of this that any analysis of Cuba's problematic
migration inevitably passes through the policy of hostility that the
U.S. government has developed against the country for more than 50
years," the editorial said.
It assured Cubans that the government recognizes their right to travel
abroad and said the new measure is part of "an irreversible process of
normalization of relations between emigrants and their homeland."
The decree still imposes limits on travel by many Cubans. People
cannot obtain a passport or travel abroad without permission if they
face criminal charges, if the trip affects national security or if
their departure would affect efforts to keep qualified labor in the
Doctors, scientists, members of the military and others considered
valuable parts of society currently face restrictions on travel to
combat brain drain.
"The update to the migratory policy takes into account the right of
the revolutionary State to defend itself from the interventionist and
subversive plans of the U.S. government and its allies," the newspaper
said. "Therefore, measures will remain to preserve the human capital
created by the Revolution in the face of the theft of talent applied
by the powerful."
On the streets of Havana, the news was met with a mixture of delight
and astonishment. Officials over the years often spoke of their desire
to lift the exit visa, but talk failed to turn into concrete change.
"No! Wow, how great!" said Mercedes Delgado, a 73-year-old retiree
when told of the news that was announced overnight. "Citizens' rights
are being restored."
"Look, I ask myself how far are we going to go with these changes.
They have me a little confused because now all that was done during 50
years, it turns out we're changing it," said Maria Romero, a cleaning
worker who was headed to her job Tuesday morning. "Everything they
told us then, it wasn't true. I tell you, I don't understand
Cuba-born U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen referred to the measure as "so-
called reforms" that are "nothing more than Raul Castro's desperate
attempts to fool the world into thinking that Cuba is changing.
"But anyone who knows anything about the communist 53- year-old Castro
dictatorship knows that Cuba will only be free when the Castro family
and its lackeys are no longer on the scene," the South Florida
The Cuban government's decision to eliminate exit visas won't mean
that Cubans can just get on a plane to the United States.
Kathleen Campbell Walker, an immigration lawyer in El Paso, Texas,
said Cubans who fly to the United States are still required to get a
State Department-issued visa. Homeland Security officials who review
passenger lists for U.S.-bound flights are likely to order an airline
to deny boarding to anyone who doesn't have that permission.
Cubans who do make it to the U.S., regardless of whether or not they
have a visa, are generally admitted to the country.
"Our own visa requirements remain unchanged," State Department
spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Tuesday.
"We obviously welcome any reforms that'll allow Cubans to depart from
and return to their country freely," said Nuland. "We remain committed
to the migration accords under which our two countries support and
promote safe, legal and orderly migration."
Under those 1994 accords between the two countries, Washington has
encouraged Havana to take steps to prevent any future mass exodus.
Tomas Bilbao, executive director of the Washington-based Cuba Study
Group, said he is cautiously optimistic that the move will reduce the
isolation of the Cuban people and increase interaction between the
U.S. and Cuban civil society.
"The important story is the Cuban government has taken a step that has
long been demanded by the Cuban people," he said.
Omar Lopez, human rights director of the Miami-based Cuban American
National Foundation, welcomed the elimination of the exit visas, but
said it remained unclear whether the change will allow more Cubans to
"Now, Cubans don't have to pay and get a permit from Cuba to go as a
tourist or a visitor, but they say that in order to get a passport you
have to comply with some requirements of the law," Lopez said.
Dissident Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez expressed concern that officials
might now control travel merely by denying passports.
Cuba has on occasion denied exit visas to government detractors when
they sought to travel abroad, and Sanchez she has been turned down 20
times over the last five years.
"I have the suitcase ready to travel. ... Let's see if I get a flight
for Jan. 14, 2013, to try out the new law.
The move eliminates a restriction in place since 1961, the height of
the Cold War, requiring Cubans to get approval from their government
for permission to leave their own country.
Cubans now will also not have to present the long-required letter of
invitation from a foreign institution or person in the country they
plan to visit.
The measure also extends to 24 months the amount of time Cubans can
remain abroad, and they can request an extension when that runs out.
Currently, Cubans lose residency and other rights including social
security and free health care and education after 11 months.
Granma's editorial said the measure will help address the needs of the
More than 1 million people of Cuban origin live in the United States,
and thousands more are in Europe.
Associated Press writers Anne-Marie Garcia in Havana, Alicia A.
Caldwell in Washington and Jennifer Kay in Miami contributed to this
Peter Orsi is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Peter_Orsi
Andrea Rodriguez is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ARodriguezAP