Cuba: New Communication and Migration Laws, Nothing New

Havana photo by Juan Siuarez

HAVANA TIMES – Although they have raised many comments, the new Communication Law (already approved) and the Migration Law (which will soon be proposed to the Cuban Parliament) do not bring much novelty to what was already practiced. In the case of the former, it masks the enhancement of censorship with the opening of advertising.

If anyone thought that the governmental monopoly on information could end, that there would be no more taboo topics for the press, and that the media would be able to hunt for news without having to wait for the top leadership to issue the official version of any event, they can wake up now.

It is seen every day, and not to go too far with the recent violent events at the Finca de los Monos in Havana, where only the official version was heard, and no witnesses or other sources appeared in the media, especially after the ineffable government defender Humberto Lopez closed the matter and called for trust in what the authorities say.

Regarding advertising, we are still waiting for the first one to appear in the national media. It seems that public or private advertising companies are taking their time to create promotions, not to be suspicious.

In reality, the decree comes into force in about 120 days, and perhaps after that, we will start seeing commercials from private businesses but for months they have been called on by the state media to come forward and bring their proposals.

This is undoubtedly new in a country where no “independent” messages have been published for more than six decades, except for some glimpses in the early 90s in sporting events until Fidel said he didn’t like it, and messages from Mitsubishi, etc., which helped pay the rights to broadcast international events with Cuban participation, disappeared completely.

Only the official sponsorship in public spaces remains, except, of course, what has to do with tourism, such as the New Latin American Film Festival, which does maintain advertising capsules for its main sponsors, although to a much lesser extent than in that first boom of the 90s.

It should not be forgotten that this law was actually approved in May 2023 in Parliament, but since then it has been tweaked to disguise the censorship it entails.

In its article 13.1, for example, it makes it clear that the ad contents can never be used to subvert the constitutional order and destabilize the socialist state, nor to defame, slander, or insult its representatives and organizations.

It refers here to the crime of disobedience, which can carry penalties of six months to three years in prison or fines, and for this reason, it will be impossible to see even in digital media not directly associated with the state a thorough investigation of the ousted former Minister of Economy Alejandro Gil, or on the economic and currency reform policies or supposed simplification of bureaucratic matters including banking, and everything they have sold us in recent years.

The Migration Law

In the case of the Migration Law, basically the only new thing is that it includes that Cubans who are victims of human trafficking can take advantage of the right to family reunification in Cuba.

Everything else, such as being “regulated” (to leave or enter the country) for being considered a threat to National Security or for promoting and organizing acts against citizen tranquility, is the same as always, which has been done for decades, but now it is put in black and white, and therefore can have legal consequences beyond the denial of entry into the country.

Without this law being approved (does anyone doubt that in the monolithic Parliament it will be approved with one hundred percent support?), already hundreds of people are “regulated” to enter or leave Cuba, mainly political opponents.

To top it off, other modifications are added, such as the fact that even if you are more than 24 months outside the island, you will still be a resident in Cuba, something that is totally normal anywhere, and not for 24 months, but for 24 years. Any Japanese citizen emigrates to France and lives there for four decades, and for that reason, they do not stop being Japanese for legal purposes, if they have not renounced their citizenship.

Although anywhere one can be denied exit if facing a pending trial or as a consequence of one is prohibited, but no one denies entry to a citizen even if they are a criminal. On the contrary, if you broke the law, they are waiting for you with open arms to be brought before the courts as soon as you step on national territory.

However, those who are dodging blackouts of up to 12 and 15 hours a day feel pleased because now they are again changing the times of residence in their home country, instead of asking why something that is a birthright has an expiration date.

It is one more crumb, despite the fact that on the National Television News it is sold as a great advance. If you tell a slave that instead of working 16 hours, they work 12, it can be seen as an advance, but it is still slavery.

Going back to the law, the “repatriated” (legal or illegal emigrants who requested in recent years the return with legal migratory status to their country) would lose their status as Cuban residents in Cuba and become residents abroad if they exceed 24 months without setting foot on Cuban soil.

In addition, it specifies that family reunification in Cuba with their relatives residing abroad can be requested, and residence in the national territory can be reestablished, as well as importing household goods in accordance with the limits and formalities established by Cuban Customs. As said, crumbs.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.