Cuba Has a Nationality Conflict

Fernando Ravsberg

Line outside the Spanish embassy in Havana. Photo: Ihosvanny

HAVANA TIMES, Sept. 2 — I found out through the national press that copies of the Cuban Constitution are being printed and sold to residents.  I find this an excellent idea since citizens will be able to know their rights and responsibilities.

I myself bought a copy to replace the old yellowed one that’s in my bookcase.  I began rereading it and was surprised with a passage that appears in Article 32 of Chapter 2, the one that speaks about citizenship.

It turns out that the “law of laws” —with which compliance is mandatory by all Cubans— says that “dual citizenship will not be admitted.  As a consequence, when foreign citizenship is acquired, Cuban citizenship will be annulled.”

The article seems clear, but the interpretation by the authorities is surprising.  When those people born in Cuba acquire another citizenship, the government effectively forces them to maintain their Cuban citizenship by demanding them to present their Cuban passport as a condition for them entering or leaving the island.

Things get even more complicated based on the “Law of Historical Memory,” approved by Madrid, which will enable approximately 200,000 Cubans (the grandchildren of Spanish immigrants) to obtain citizenship from the “motherland.”

If the spirit and letter of the Cuban Constitution is respected, all of these new Europeans must lose their Cuban citizenship and leave the island or live there with the same rights and responsibilities of any other foreigner.

Advantages and disadvantages

This would have evident advantages for them, for example: They would not need to pay $150 for an exit permit to be able to leave the country, they would be allowed to buy automobiles legally and they would have access to the Internet in their home.

Undoubtedly they would also be required to pay for public health services and education, they would no longer have rights to real property (except for the new private luxury golf-course properties being developed) and they would lose the right to hold political offices or positions.

The nearby Museum of the Revolution. Photo: Rafique

They would even be denied membership in the Communist Party (PCC), because in Article 1 of its articles of incorporation it specifies that members must be Cuban citizens, something that would cause the expulsion of thousands of people.

If the percentage of members of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) who are the grandchildren of Spaniards is the same as for the rest of the population, that political organization will be forced to boot out more than 10,000 militants from it ranks.

What I’m saying might appear to be simple speculation, but I have checked to find out that in some party cells they have already begun kicking out members who have admitted that they are of Spanish ancestry or that they’re applying for citizenship from their nation of origin.

I have spoken with several party activists who were expelled for this reason, and they concurred that the process takes place without intimidation, but always forces them to choose between their communist political affiliation and Spanish citizenship.

All of those I spoke to ended up leaving the PCC.  One of them admitted that it was a relief to depart the ranks without a major conflict, while the other ones affirmed that they opted for citizenship only for economic reasons and the ability to travel with ease.

Some feel wrongly excluded.  One of them dedicated his life working for the Revolution.  Today he lives in an austere house, doesn’t have a car and depends on a tiny retirement income to eat; yet despite all this he continues defending the same ideas.

Citizens of the world or surplus members

The lists of applications to join the Party must be overflowing to be able to assimilate without a wink the losing thousands of members, some of them convinced communists with decades of party activism under their belts.

I even have the impression that a legal conflict exists.  If these new Spaniards are forced to use their Cuban passports to travel, it’s because they’re considered citizens of Cuba, and therefore they should maintain all their rights – including membership in the PCC.

It is paradoxical that this issue is generating so much political conflict in a country in which the principal military leader of the struggle for independence was from the Dominican Republic, and one of the most outstanding leaders in the 1959 revolution was Argentinean.

And they weren’t the only ones.  In a 1975 speech Fidel Castro referred to another Cuban leader, Fabio Grobart, affirming that he was “a tailor by profession, a Pole by birth and a citizen of the world, as are all communists.”

Havana Times translation of the Spanish original authorized by BBC Mundo.


6 thoughts on “Cuba Has a Nationality Conflict

  • June 28, 2015 at 11:51 am
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    Yes is simple the stupid congress and our idealistic president Obama ignore the extortion to Cuban who becoming US citizents,and American people only care to go as tourist ,enjoy tobacco, run and prostitutes and have good time. They not think about human rights or need for food, clothing ,transportation ,only see the island habitants as good material for pictures and videos .no one of the politician Cuban Americans democrats or republican do nothing for stop the extortion to US citizen’s hey only ask for money for his political campaign’s and not reading never the Cuban Constitution who violated is 32 article who forbid double citizenship,but the communist need money for buy instruments to repress people and we given to them and now the American people

  • September 5, 2010 at 6:12 pm
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    Julio – I assume that you are quoting the prices for Cubans in the USA. It is not so expensive for those in Cuba.

    Also note taht foreigners resident in Cuba also have to pay a fee for a permission to leave.

  • September 3, 2010 at 9:34 pm
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    Most of these unnecessary restrictions wouldn’t have been there in the first place if it wasn’t for the brutal American embargo.

  • September 3, 2010 at 3:07 pm
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    Cuban passport cost 360 dollares every six years to get a passport
    180 every two years to re activate the passport
    and 150 dollares permit to enter the country.
    And this is for anybody born in Cuba no matter if they are citizens of other countries.
    Those who are american citizens before 1970 I believe can use by their directive just the american passport.
    Now what a contradiction with the Cuban constitution. This constitution seems to be worthless since they violate their on rules in many many points not just this.

    Cuban citizens who visit the US are charge 150 dollares every month after 3 month outside Cuba. So is like a rental fee!

    So is very very obvious that all this consular fees and passport fees is a business for the Cuban regime. A way to collect money. There is no way they can say or justify that they spend more money than England or the US since we all know the salaries in Cuba are from 10 to 20 dollars!

    Again it is clear the regime works as a Mafia organization. Using the power they have to collect extorsions on all of us violating even their own laws.

    They even have gone as far as allowing people to travel to cuba with their new Cuban passport and permissions fees paid to later return them on the same plane back saying that they are not allow to enter Cuba. They have done this to people that live outside of CUba and that open their mouth so that others do not follow their example!

    Again reinforcing the idea of a Mafia regime and that of a government guided by the personal whim of those in power.

  • September 3, 2010 at 9:45 am
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    How much does a Cuban passport cost? In the UK, we pay something like £60-70 and it lasts 5-10 years before we have to renew it. (Obviously, we don’t pay for permission to leave the country – just the relatively unbelievable cost of airfare and hotels. The cheapest flights to Cuba cost ~£650 at the moment – something like four year’s standard salary?)

  • September 3, 2010 at 1:48 am
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    Fernando there is an obvious reason for the regime to ignore that many cubans are citizen of other nations an to obligate them to get the Cuban passport that only last for 2 years.

    That reason is simply MONEY!

    Using the excuse of the passport they can extract more money from each Cuban that like to visit. You not only have to pay for an entry permit but also for a Cuban passport!
    Needles to say this Cuban passport is one of the most expensive passports of the whole world. So you can see the intention is to make money.
    I think it will be easier if they stop issuing the passport and charge the money but then it will be too obvious !

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