The past few days have seen glowing news story after glowing news story celebrating the wonderful and magnanimous travel “reforms” of the Castro dictatorship in Cuba scheduled to begin tomorrow. Each report tells us how the Cuban dictatorship will break with the five-decade long prohibition on travel and will now allow all Cubans to leave the island freely without restrictions.
But the devil is in the details, and in this case, it is the Castro devil. This has been the case with the Cuban regime and its so-called reforms for more than five decades where they say one thing and do another. Once you get into the details of this latest travel reform, you realize that all Cubans are not as free to travel as most everyone believes they will be.
Days before new policy, Cuba limits travel
Cubans used to have to clear numerous hurdles to leave their island. But that is to change in a few days, much to the joy of people like Ernesto Garcia
“It completely surprised us,” the Havana resident said of Cuba’s new travel policy, announced last fall and set to take effect Monday. “This great news is taking away a load our shoulders.”
So does this mean all Cubans can pack their bags, destined for wherever?
After weeks in which passport applications surged and just days before the new policy takes affect, Cuba this week “began to increase the information about the update announced last October,” according to a story from the state-run Prensa Latina News Agency.
Specifically, the Labor and Social Security Ministry defined categories of Cubans whose travel would be restricted. They include those who may be “criminally prosecuted, are subject to military service or (are denied) for reasons of defense and national security.”
“Also on the list are citizens who have obligations with the state or are not authorized under rules designed to preserve the skilled workforce and protect official information,” read the Presna Latina story.
It’s not clear, exactly, how sweeping these restrictions will be or why they were announced this week. Col. Lambert Fraga, deputy chief of Cuba’s immigration department, explained the government would exercise its prerogative “to protect the scientific, professional and technical fields, as well as key athletes who help the socio-economic development of the country.”
Such restrictions are necessary, Fraga told Prensa Latina, “to defend the supreme interests of society.”
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