Cuba reportedly considering easing travel controls
After controlling the comings and goings of its people for five decades, communist Cuba appears on the verge of a momentous decision to lift many travel restrictions. One senior official says a “radical and profound” change is weeks away.
The comment by parliament chief Ricardo Alarcon has residents, exiles and policymakers abuzz with speculation that the much-hated exit visa could be a thing of the past, even if Raul Castro’s government continues to limit the travel of doctors, scientists, military personnel and others in sensitive roles to prevent a brain drain.
Other top Cuban officials have cautioned against over-excitement, leaving islanders and Cuba experts to wonder how far Havana’s leaders are willing to go.
In the past 18 months, Castro has removed prohibitions on some private enterprise, legalized real estate and car sales, and allowed compatriots to hire employees, ideas that were long anathema to the government’s Marxist underpinnings.
Scrapping travel controls could be an even bigger step, at least symbolically, and carries enormous economic, social and political risk.
Even half measures – such as ending limits on how long Cubans can live abroad or cutting the staggeringly high fees for the exit visa that Cubans must obtain just to leave the country – would be significant.
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