Yesterday, October 16, the Official Gazette of the Republic of Cuba finally published Decree/Law No. 302, which modifies the previous “Law on Immigration,” No. 1312, from September, 1976. A text of the law appeared in the same edition. As a good friend of mine would say, “More of the same with the same.” Nevertheless, the fact that it approaches the subject of emigration with the obvious intention of unlocking structures designed thirty-six years ago makes it somewhat different. What seems more important at this point is that Cuban authorities are introducing into the geopolitical and electoral landscape of Florida an expectation of how they will deal with the subject of Cubans in the diaspora. Not coincidentally, the official press — which, as we all know, is the only press — stated that these modifications are part of “irreversible” process of normalization of emigration from the homeland.
For the casual Cuban observer, what is most significant are the advantages, principally the elimination of the letter of invitation, a document necessary before any ordinary overseas trip can begin, and the despised exit permit, issued by the Ministry of the Interior. Like the documents one receives after completing a prison sentence, they confirmed, or confirm, that as citizens we are all hostages to the dictatorship. Now the passport will become the means of police control. We will see in ninety days, when the law is scheduled to take effect, and after the the election results in the United States are final, who can request and receive a passport in Cuba and who cannot.
The really timid measures applied to the emigration law are useless if they are not backed up by the guarantees provided by a national democratic state, as we all know. The modified article itself leads us to consider the obstacles that are still present, and how our rights as citizens continue to be violated, and not just in issues related to emigration. This unites us once again in continuing to work for the ratification of the United Nation’s Conventions on Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as the real point of departure for recovering all our liberties as citizens.
October 18 2012