14ymedio, 2 March 2016 — Cubans, Haitians and Dominicans are those most affected in the region because of their nationality, as far as travel is concerned. The ranking prepared by the consulting firm Henley & Partners, in collaboration with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), places the three countries at the end of the line in Latin America on the 2015 index of Visa restrictions.
The Cuban passport has benefited in recent years from the inclusion of residents on the island, as of August 2013, among those eligible for a multiple-entry tourist visa for five years to travel to the United States. With this visa stamped on their passport, they can also visit, without applying for a separate visa, countries such as Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and El Salvador.
However, it remains the dream of many Cubans to have a foreign passport, and the more than 119,662 Spaniards living in the country, most of them nationalized through Spain’s so-called Law of Grandchildren, prefer to present their EU passport to the immigration officials in the countries to which they travel.
Among the new limitations suffered by the national passport is the requirement of a visa for Cuban citizens to enter Ecuador that went into effect on December 1st of last year, as a result of the migration crisis in Central America, where thousands of Cubans are stranded on their way to the United States.
Countries with better international situations and better relations with other countries benefit in the granting of visas. “The main criteria for issuing visas are security considerations, along with regulatory and economic considerations,” a consultant from Henley & Partners told the BBC.
The best placed country in Latin America right now is Chile, in position number 19 worldwide, as 155 countries do not require a visa from its citizens. Behind Chile are Brazil (21) and Argentina (22). In 2015 Colombia reached an agreement with the European Union allowing its nationals to enter the 26 EU countries without a visa, and so jumped notably higher on the rating.
In the international context, the classification is led by Germany, whose citizens can travel with little paperwork to 177 countries (the maximum number is 218). In last place is Afghanistan (25), preceded by Iraq (30), Pakistan (29) and Somalia (31).
The trend so far is a lowering in the percentage of people who need an entry visa to visit other countries. According to the Tourist Visa Openness Report prepared for the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the figure dropped from 77% in 2008 to 64% in 2013. Despite these data, the refugee crisis in Europe threatens this propensity for liberalization. Some countries of the European Union are calling for it to leave the Schengen Area, which affects the mobility of more than 400 million Europeans, with repercussions that could affect the rest of the countries that have agreements with the EU to not require visas.