HAVANA, Cuba (CBS TAMPA) — Cuba is set to end exit permits for foreign travel, giving many Cubans more of an incentive to travel abroad for up to 24 months.
Cubans currently have to go through a lengthy and expensive process to obtain a permit and dissidents are often denied one, correspondents told the BBC. The move is the latest in a series of reforms under President Raul Castro to end many processes hated by most Cubans.
Cubans who have permanent residency on the island will also be allowed to stay abroad for up to 24 months, instead of the current 11, without having to return to renew paperwork. Cuba previously saw people attempting to leave the country as traitors or enemies of the revolution, says our correspondent, but official recognition is growing that many Cubans want to leave for economic reasons and that the country can benefit from the cash and knowledge they bring back with them.
However, in the past, the restrictions have failed to prevent hundreds of thousands of Cubans emigrating illegally in the past few decades, many of them to the U.S. where they have formed a strongly anti-Havana diaspora.
The U.S. grants automatic residency to anyone who reaches it from Cuba.
Now all that Cubans will need to leave is a valid passport and a visa. But, the new law still argues for the need to protect Cuba’s “human capital”, our correspondent adds, so highly-qualified professionals like doctors, will continue to face extra hurdles to travel, according to the BBC.
Regardless of the legislation, the relationship between Cuba and the U.S. remains hostile – they have no diplomatic relations and an American economic blockade of the era is still in effect.
Cuba has struggled economically since the collapse of the Soviet Union and now relies heavily on the support of the left-wing government of Venezuela, the BBC reported. The latest reform comes on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war as the U.S. and the Soviet Union nearly went to war over Soviet missiles placed on the island.