By Alberto N Jones
HAVANA TIMES — The long-awaited and highly-acclaimed suspension of the first immigration measures, which have had such a negative effect on Cubans on both sides of the Florida Strait, is an encouraging sign of the upper echelons in the Cuban government’s capacity to reflect, be mature and willingness to correct what needs to be made right.
Hundreds of thousands of Cubans who were banned from visiting their country will soon be able to do so and the harshness, division and resentment that this prohibition created will slowly disappear so as to strengthen family and national ties as well as the sentiment that Cuba belongs to all Cubans.
At a time when the country was just hit by several hurricanes and conspiracy theories from President Donald Trump’s Government are aimed at reducing the number of tourists to the island, as well as a significant drop in the Gross Domestic Product, this measure will have a neutralizing effect on hostile actions against Cuba and will lead to a positive capital injection with an estimated 800,000-1,000,000 Cuban-Americans visiting the country, distributing an average of 1000 USD each.
Likewise, the suspension of the absurd prohibition that stopped Cuban-Americans from visiting the island by sea led to the small island of Bimini in the Bahamas to reap great profits from the hundreds of recreational boats that Cuban-Americans in the south of Florida use. Now, they can turn their boats around and sail south, especially during national holidays in both countries, long weekends and other days, going beyond the capacity of existing docks in Cuban harbors which will be expanded.
Hundreds of US yachtsman will intermingle amid this naval avalanche, which will allow Cuba to exceed its planned growth rate of the tourism sector.
Thousands of elderly people who are afraid to fly will now be able to return to the island via ferry or recreational boats. It’s imperative that measures against illegal drug smuggling are ramped up so as to stop this step forward from being reversed.
Many millions of dollars weren’t spent in Cuba because of poorly conceived immigration decisions, the slow processing of consular procedures, and the semi-hostile attention Cuban officials gave in both departments. Now, with the new provisions, entering and leaving our country should be more pleasant and be an incentive to wipe out a past that was anything but happy.
More to Revise
The changes made to immigration laws and the impact these will have on the country need to be complimented with a complete revision and adaptation of the restrictive and stifling Customs regulations, whose only function and social objective should be to stop anything harmful from entering the country and to stimulate a more fluid commercial exchange with the rest of the world.
The great damage caused by the US blockade is constantly denounced by all the media outlets that exist in Cuba. This contradicts the actions of Cuban Customs who restrict, limit, prevent, apply burdensome duties and seize (with absolute immunity) the well-intended efforts of the majority of Cuban-Americans who are only interested in reducing their family, neighbors and friends’ needs.
Why interfere or dilute this incredible opportunity to unite the Cuban people like never before. In another measure that could double the number of visitors to the country would be by getting rid of an out-dated, expensive passport, with a short lifespan, which needs to be renewed every two years and a whole armada of people to reprocess them?
Rather than feeling sorry about the damage caused by the blockade imposed by a US government amid its worst national and international crisis, the cruel Cuban Customs regulations need to be deregulated like what’s been done with Immigration. In this way no sick person wilts away or dies because they don’t have the medicine they need; no machine stops working because there aren’t any spare parts, or that a child cries because he doesn’t have enough food, which would increase the national economy considerably by charging fair custom duties.
Ignoring the evolution of the Cuban diaspora and insisting on keeping a treatment that no other country in the world gives its citizens abroad, is a discriminatory act that is inclined to perpetuate and maintain the origin of last century’s deep national split.
No other country in the world has Cuba’s potential to unite its emigre community, recover from old wounds and move forwards in the interest of a better tomorrow. Cuba needs to stop being its own worst enemy, by pretending to ignore millions of its own children and their capacity to contribute to the common good, fighting to overcome tiny differences today when compared to the profound rifts that Jose Marti had to face to create a homeland for all and the well-being of all.