By Daniel Palacios (Café Fuerte)
HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban government is considering lowering to three years the period of prohibition of entry to the country after an act of illegal immigration and plans to expand the amount of currency that travelers can carry upon entry without formally declaring it.
Both measures are at an advanced level of analysis for implementation, and would constitute further changes to the immigration and customs regulations in force, according to an official of the Bureau of Identification, Immigration and Nationality of the Ministry of Interior (MININT) .
The source, who requested anonymity, told Café Fuerte that the implementation date of the new measures is uncertain, but did not rule that could be this year.
The new immigration policy, launched in January 2013, allows temporary return to the country to people who left the country illegally after 1990, provided eight years since their flight has passed. Exceptions to the possibility of returning are those who left through the Guantánamo Naval Base outside the exodus of 1994, endangering the country’s defense and national security.
As for the influx of money there are currently no restrictions on the amount of foreign exchange a traveler can bring into the country but he/she must declare the total amount if it exceeds US $5,000.
“The move to expand the amount of foreign currency that can be entered without declaring has received some resistance within the working group, as this could provide an opening money laundering operations, drug trafficking, among other possible negative results” said the official who did not specify the new amount to be authorized.
He added that so far “this is a topic that has been treated with the utmost discretion” within MININT.
According to the source, also under study are at least three other changes within the immigration regulations, some concerning the entry and movement in the country of the private sector, but declined to elaborate on the matter.
Government plans seem to point to a larger inflow of capital into the country and the monetary contribution of emigrants to the national economy in the shortest time possible.
Evidence of a new regulation on the entry of money into the country comes after recent moves by the Cuba Customs Office regarding the list of recognized operating package and message services from United States agencies, and the warning on passengers carrying packages for third parties, that could result in criminal penalties for travelers.