Dariela Aquique

HAVANA TIMES — Cubans woke up yesterday morning with news that had been anxiously awaited by many people for quite some time. Promised changes in immigration policy will finally be put into effect starting January 14 of next year.

Yesterday — Tuesday, October 16, 2012 — this appeared as the headline in the Granma newspaper and in the “Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba.” Immediately after the lead was a paragraph that read as follows: “…the genocidal and illegal economic, commercial and financial blockade by the government of the United States against our country.”

Such a warning awakens suspicions, but overtaken by the excitement of seeing a right come true that had been denied us for so many years, I am eager to read the rest of the document. I particularly noted Article 23, which specifies the reasons why Cuban citizens living in the country will not be able to get passports.

Here we find logical cases, such as someone facing criminal proceedings, or someone having outstanding sanctions yet to be served or their being subject to the fulfillment of military service, among others. But there is one questionable point:

“Sub-paragraph f): The lack of authorization established by virtue of norms aimed at preserving a skilled workforce for the economic, social, scientific and technical development of the country and for the safety and protection of official information.”

What this means is that remaining in force will be the famous “letters of freedom” for doctors, scientists and other professionals. Even when they are married or requested by relatives abroad, they’ll have to wait for periods of five years or more to be authorized to leave.

This is justified in the text by the old “brain drain” theory. But it seems to be trying to deny the fact that most professionals who migrate do so basically for better pay and to have the necessary resources to carry out their work with optimum quality, which is the dream of every great professional.

Maybe from now on, with the absence of so many restrictions, it won’t be a surprise to see professionals establishing themselves for a certain amount of time in other countries and then returning to practice here. This is something that can’t be ruled out.

Other issues of fairness would be ones such as the repeal of Act No. 989 dated December 5, 1961, providing for nationalization through confiscation by the Cuban state of property, rights and shares of those who are permanently absent from the country. These are well received.

The fact is that we won’t need letters of invitation or exit permits to leave our country. All we’ll need is a passport and a visa from the place we plan to go (if that is required). Cubans with the financial wherewithal will be able to travel to other places in the world.

They can establish themselves in those places for a period of 24 months to try their luck and then decide whether to stay or remain. In any case, Cubans are hardworking and dedicated. Once installed anywhere in the world, they will always contribute to the Cuban economy, sending money to family and friends.

I think these new law is a positive step in the economic and social policy of Cuba. The government is fulfilling another promise, even though much more needs to be done. This is one step forward with a long road ahead.


6 thoughts on “Immigration Policy Changes

  • Addressing point by point:

    “This policy change simply allows…” Why “simply”? It’s a welcome reform by the Cuban government. Why attempt to trivialize it?

    “Any exodus of Cubans to any country will likely be met by fewer visas”. In other words, the Cuban government intelligently assessed the risk that the policy change would not subject Cubans to a repeat of what happened in the 60’s when half of Cuba’s doctors fled the country.

    “Permanent residence status is typically a function of the economy and available jobs.” True, except for Cubans travelling to the US. By current US law, the minute they indicate they are no longer tourists but want to stay as permanent residents, they’ve got it. You are quite deceitful on this point.

    “In addition, this change will encourage Cuban émigrés to return to Cuba to visit sooner and more often” due to not having to pay consular fees each time. Score another point for the intelligence of the Cuban government for offering an incentive to its citizens for returning to Cuba.

    As for how to deal with Ms. Yoani Sanchez, it will be interesting to see what the Cuban government decides about her. If allowed out, her only friendly venue is the US. The rest of the world has condemned the 50 plus year blockade as being a major cause of Cuba’s economic problems.

    US media will try to make her an instant celebrity. She writes what elites there- corporate media and government – want to hear. But unless she is ‘media-friendly’ – looks good, talks good – she won’t be around for long. American media LOVES media-friendly people, in case you hadn’t noticed.

    Based on the intelligence the Cuban government is showing to date about travel policies, I have every confidence it will make a wise decision about Yoani.

    I doubt if this is good news for you, however.

    You never respond to my comments, only moving on to incessantly submitting comments to other articles. Why? As if I didn’t know the answer already. Just asking.

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