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.