Cuba Removes Obstacles So Its Citizens Can Return to the Island

Cuba demands that its citizens who have spent more than 24 months outside the national territory receive a “habilitation” on their passport to be able to return to the island, even to visit. (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE via 14ymedio, Havana, 28 October 2017 – The Cuban government announced Saturday that as of 1 January 2018 it will eliminate “the requirement that children born to Cubans abroad establish themselves in Cuba to obtain Cuban citizenship,” and it will no longer require Cubans living abroad to obtain “permission on the passport for travel to Cuba.”

“The United States government closes and Cuba opens,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said at a ceremony in Washington, announcing a series of immigration measures in response to measures recently taken by the US administration.

Cuba will also authorize “the entry and exit on pleasure boats,” currently not permitted, of Cuban citizens residing abroad, and entry to the island “of citizens who left the country illegally, except those who did so through the United States base in Guantánamo,” explained Rodríguez. Pleasure boats and cruise ships currently dock at the Hemingway and Gaviota Varadero marinas

The measures seek to relax Cuba’s immigration policy at a time when the United States has complicated travel between the two countries by suspending visa procedures at its embassy in Havana and expelled much of the Cuban mission in Washington.

The elimination of the process whereby Cubans living abroad receive permission to visit Cuba, known as “habilitation” of Cuban passports, was an old demand of the Cuban diaspora and could benefit 800,000 islanders living abroad, according to sources from the Cuban government.

The government will also eliminate the so-called process of “settlement,” established in the current Cuban Immigration Law, which requires that the children of Cubans born abroad spend at least 3 months in Cuba to be eligible to be granted citizenship.

Rodríguez spoke at the Fourth Meeting of Cuban Residents in the United States held today in Washington, where the Cuban historian Eusebio Leal also spoke.