Will Cuba’s Absurd Travel and Immigration Restrictions End? / Yoani Sanchez

Yoani traveling on the Island like a “normal” Cuban. Photo from AlongtheMalecon.blogspot.co.uk / Tracey Eaton

I have accumulated twenty negatives in just five years to my requests to travel. Twenty times I have tried to leave my country and just received a “no” as a response from the Cuban authorities. Although it is hard to accustom oneself to such an absurdity, the truth is that I have learned to live on my island prison. I have consoled myself by saying that all the raw material of my writing was on this Island, in its reality and that it would also be very hard for me to be separated from my family for even a few weeks.

But these were phrases of relief that I repeated to myself from frustration and anger at my inability to travel, so as not to suffer emotional hurt. It was a way of maintaining mental hygiene amid a feeling of seclusion.

This week a new travel and migration law has been approved that will be effective on 13 January 2013. As reflected in its multiple clauses, from that date Cubans will not need permission to travel outside our country, nor will we need a letter of invitation from a stranger or relative who emigrated. Long-awaited news that has been greeted with joy by millions of Cubans within and outside the Island.

In any event, although still lacking a test of the reality of the limits and scope of the new provisions, there are some suggestions that the government will maintain a filter for professionals and critics of the system.

For now, I’m packing my suitcase. I have started to tell myself that it is possible, that they will let me go, that I will board the plane in January. But maybe it’s just one more optimistic phrase that I repeat to myself. In a few months I will have my proof.