14ymedio, 22 April 2016 – The Cuban government changed its immigration policy with regards to maritime travel. The scandal provoked by the refusal of Carnival cruise lines to sell tickets on its cruises to the island to citizens of Cuban origin – a policy subsequently rectified by the cruise line – has forced Havana to authorize the entry and departure of Cuban citizens “regardless of their immigration status” both as passengers or crew members on merchant and cruise ships. Similarly, the same measure will be gradually implemented with regards to pleasure yachts.
The Government issued a news release early Friday that details the new provisions and reminds crew members wishing to enter Cuba by sea that they have to apply for the permits “through the established employment institutions.”
The note also points out that “Cuban citizens residing in the country will have to have a visa for the country or countries they will visit.”
The Government said that the measure that would have prevented travel between Cuba and the United States by sea was intended to avoid and prevent “terrorist actions” that “Cuba has been the victim of numerous times since the triumph of the Revolution in 1959.” For the same reason, changing immigration policy will be accompanied by an exchange with the US authorities aimed at establishing bilateral measures to ensure national security of both countries.
Carnival signed contracts with Cuban companies last March for the start of cruise operations cruise Cuba and the United States and announced that the first of its cruises would take place on 1 May. However, controversy erupted when the company’s decision not to sell tickets to Cuban passengers came to like, excusing itself by noting that Cuban law did not allow entry by sea to Cubans.
The protests of exiles in Miami, which have reached the courts, led US Secretary of State John Kerry to speak out against the decision of the shipping company, to ensure that it would not discriminate against Cubans. Carnival announced earlier this week that it would allow Cubans to make reservations and that it would try to get the Cuban authorities to modify the contested legislation. The chain of events has finally forced the Cuban government to make a decision that it will allow the signed contract to go forward.