For the last fifty years, Cuba has been shuttered from much of the outside world under the authoritative government of Fidel Castro. Since 2008, when Fidel’s brother, Raul Castro, took leadership, the Cuban government has “gradually eased restrictions in many areas of politics, business and society.” The most recent easing of restrictions has come in the form of removing the need for Cuban citizens to obtain exit permits to leave the country. “Cubans currently have to go through a lengthy and expensive process to obtain a permit and dissidents are often denied one.” Starting January 14 of next year, Cubans will only need a valid passport and visa to leave the country.
What’s the Big Idea?
In the past, people who left Cuba were seen as “traitors or enemies of the revolution.” Now, the Cuban government sees 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.” Under the new law “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.” Still there are some restrictions alongside the slackening of the law, so that “highly-qualified professionals like doctors, will continue to face extra hurdles to travel.”