Cuba Exit Visa Ends Starting Today

January 14, 2013 | Print Print |
One of the Terminals of the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana.  Photo: Caridad

One of the terminals of the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES (dpa) — A long-anticipated reform to ease restrictions on Cubans who wish to travel abroad went into force Monday, meaning Cubans will no longer need an exit permit and an invitation from their intended destination to be allowed to travel.

The government of Cuban President Raul Castro had announced in mid-February plans to lift travel restrictions, which were among the reforms most longed-for among citizens of the Communist country.

From Monday, Cubans need only a valid passport and a visa from their destination country to be able to temporarily travel abroad.

Under the new legislation, Cubans will also be allowed to stay abroad for up to 24 months, compared with 11 months until now.

Further, migrants who have illegally left Cuba since 1994 will also be allowed to return.

It remained uncertain whether qualified professionals, such as Cuba’s doctors and its most prestigious athletes, would be allowed to travel abroad without restrictions. The same doubts applied to the country’s dissidents.

Award-winning Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, one of the most outspoken dissidents to the Castro government, applied for a passport Monday. She has repeatedly been denied exit permits in recent years on some 20 occasions, and with them the chance to collect awards and distinctions abroad.

“I guess I’ll have my passport in the first week of February and I will be able to travel … I keep my fingers crossed. I’ll believe it when I’m in the plane!” she said on the social network Twitter.

The reform is also a challenge for the United States, which grants residency to all Cubans who arrive on its soil even if they did so illegally. Washington has said it has no plans to change policy for now.


What's your opinion?

  • Luis

    I think she’s lying… again. After all, last time she said she had everything – including the passport – in hands, being only barred because of the now obsolete exit permit.

  • Moses Patterson

    You obviously don’t understand that all Cubans with previously-held passports must submit their old passport for a new one. Yes, she had a passport…one with 20 unused visa stamps from countries that had approved her travel. However, she had been denied the ridiculous exit visa so she was unable to travel. We will see if the Castros truly have the cojones to permit their most well-known blogger the opportunity to exercise her basic human right to travel.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Goodrich/100003362238330 John Goodrich

      You might not have noticed but FIDEL Castro has been retired and out of the government for some five years now.
      He assiduously avoids interfering in governmental matters, restricting his activities to writing his “Reflections” when he is up to it. His failing health and advancing years has really limited his activities.

      I realize how important a figure Fidel is to those, like you, who wish to demonize the Cuban revolution.

      It appears it is really difficult for you to let him go and I can’t imagine what you’ll do when he dies.

      I also find it interesting that Sanchez is known to you as an innocent “blogger’ when all the trouble she is having has to do with her working for the enemy of the Cuban people.

      Were Sanchez a U.S. citizen and working with and for al-Qaeda, what do you suppose the U.S government would do to her ?

      • Griffin

        The Cuban regime, and those who support it, are the only “enemy of the Cuban people”. Those who advocate for democracy and human rights are not the enemy, they are the people.

      • Luis

        “Were Sanchez a U.S. citizen and working with and for al-Qaeda, what do you suppose the U.S government would do to her?”

        I guess torture in some US ship on international waters, as Obama – even when he said he wouldn’t do it – signed the NDAA into law recently:

        http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2011/12/obama-makes-it-official-suspected-terrorists-can-be-indefinitely-detained-without-trial/46818/

        Democrat, Republican… same policy. They do not hold power in the States. The military-industrial complex do.

      • Moses Patterson

        If a known Al-queda agent who lived within the borders of the US spent their time writing internet articles and columns which appear in foreign newspapers criticizing US government leaders and US policy, I would surely disagree with their opinions but I would not carry the venom you and other Castro sycophants seem to have for Ms. Sanchez. Proof of this is the Al-Jazeera Washington Bureau. This media source is highly critical of US policy and they enjoy every press freedom, including presidential press conferences.John, SHE’S A BLOGGER!! She uses the internet not hand-grenades!

        • Luis

          ‘Venom’? Thus spoke a poisonous snake who spent over half of his time throwing death-wishes for ‘the Castros’ here on HT.

          John said ‘Al-Qaeda’, not ‘Al-Jazeera’. As I said, a known Al-Qaeda agent – regardless of his actions – would not last long within the US.

    • Luis

      Thank you, I wasn’t aware of that. But if the also famous Guillermo Fariñas said is true:

      “Fariñas, who won the Sakharov Prize for human rights awarded by the
      European Parliament in 2010, said a group of senior State Security
      officials turned up at his home Monday in the central city of Santa
      Clara to inform him that he would be “permitted to leave and return.”

      “These are some of the same people who repress us dissidents on a daily
      basis, so yes, yes, their visit was a little surprising,” he told El
      Nuevo Herald by telephone.”

      http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/14/3182664_p2/long-lines-as-cubans-seek-passports.html

      And if it’s good news about Cuba coming from Miami Herald, then it must be good news.

  • Griffin

    Is it possible the government is hoping dissidents, malcontents and other troublemakers use this new opportunity to travel abroad to leave Cuba for good? Is this a safety-valve for the regime?

    At the same time, the practicalities of travel will produce a revenue stream of foreign currency for the government which charges a high fee for passports and takes a share of the airline revenues from flights to and from Cuba.