Raul Castro has been announcing reforms the last 2 years (although they are still bureaucratic and not easy to follow through on). First it was allowing for property sales, then entrepreneurship was offered. Todays latest announcement is about the freedom to travel.. one of Cuba’s biggest issues.
According to NY Times:
The Cuban government announced on Tuesday that it would terminate the exit visa requirement by Jan. 14, possibly letting many more Cubans depart for vacations, or forever, with only a passport and a visa from the country where they plan to go.
Cuba’s doctors, scientists and other professionals, who have long faced tight restrictions on movement, might be held back as well because the new policy includes a caveat allowing the government to limit departures to “preserve the human capital created by the Revolution.”
According to blogger Yoani, the cost of a Cuban passport will nearly double, to just over $100. And yet, the new migration law also gives Cubans latitude to stay abroad longer, letting them remain outside the country for two years, and possibly longer, before losing their rights to property and benefits like health care — an increase from 11 months under the current policy.
Could this be another 93 Rafter exodus (approx 30,000 cubans headed to US shores on rafts), except this one will have a flock of local Cubans scrambling to leave? Countries like Mexico and Spain are bracing themselves for further Cuban residents looking for a new life.
If anything, it will allow for a more circular flow back and forth with Cubans now. Because the new law will let Cubans live abroad for two years, they could obtain American legal residency, which takes at least a year, without giving up their rights in Cuba.
To read the entire story, visit Cuba Lifts Much Reviled Rule, The Exit Visa published for The New York Times.