14ymedio, Lorey Saman, Mexico, 13 October 2020 — The announcement of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs this Sunday, regarding Cubans or foreigners residing on the island to extend their stay abroad until October 12, 2021 without losing the right to return, came with a condition that was not reported and that has outraged the expatriate community: the cost of the process.
The price depends on the country where they are located. In any territory of the European Union, for example, the application costs 25 euros, plus 40 euros for each month that you want to extend your stay between this October 12th and the following year, that is, 480 euros for the whole year. In addition, if the procedure is carried out by a third person, you have to pay another 25 euros.
But those who are in the United States bear the worst burden: 20 dollars per application, plus 150 dollars for each month of extension (1,800 for the whole year) and another 20 if the interested party does not present it directly.
In Ecuador, the Cuban community organized a “sit-in” for Tuesday in front of the Cuban consulate in Quito to protest the fees. “I learned that to extend my residence I have to pay 40 dollars per month. It is unfair, it is not my fault that Cuba and the world had to close their borders, it is an abuse. Why do I have to pay so much money if I have sufficient time to enter Cuba?” a Cuban who resides in the Andean country told this newspaper.
With the hashtags #EliminenPrórrogas (Eliminate Exension [fees]), #LosDerechosNoExpiran (Rights Don’t Expire), #SomosCubanosDePorVida (We Are Cubans for Life) and #ReformaMigratoriaYa (Reform Migation Now), they also ask “to have an effective consular representation for all members of our community.”
The indignation is greater for having learned the news informally; many hear it through audios that circulate among the community where the consul supposedly refers to the costs.
This is how Hiram H. Castro, a Havanan who is studying for a doctorate at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Ecuador, found out. “In my case, November 2 marks my 24 months and the José Martí airport is still closed. I cannot travel or buy a ticket in those uncertain circumstances. The question is: should I still pay 40 dollars for each month that passes without being able to travel to Cuba?” he laments in a group that brings together Cubans in that country.
Another woman, a mother from Villa Clara, insists that this new provision does not benefit her at all: “On the contrary, I had my trip prepared for July, because I have a five-year-old girl who is here with me, and I planned my trip to last a month, but because of the coronavirus everything fell apart.”
“I’ve spent several months without working and had to pay for everything, I ran out of money. Now I have to save again for another trip, but my Cuban residence has already expired and I have no money for that extension. And I am the one who supports my mother in Cuba. I mean, I can’t go enter as a tourist and that’s it. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t want to lose my residence rights, but I don’t have money either,” she told 14ymedio desperately.
The amounts that Cubans have to pay for consular procedures have always been the subject of criticism and complaints. From the price of the passport, one of the most expensive in the world, and its extensions, to the confirmations of university degrees, which cost around 1,200 dollars, something that migrants describe as “a whole business” set up by the Government of the Island to squeeze their pockets.
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