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Fernanda Luchine & Collin Laverty, MPIA '12, on U.S. Travel to Cuba

Easing of travel limits on Cubans brings new era

11/16/2012
Fernanda Luchine & Collin Laverty, North County Times

The Cuban government’s recent announcement that it will make it easier and less costly for most Cubans to travel abroad was met with open arms by the Cuban people. The Official Gazette detailing the new travel policy was sold out at newsstands within hours of publication and the elimination of the much despised “exit permit” soon became the “bola” (Cuban slang for hot topic) at bus stops, university classrooms and workplaces throughout the country. Immigration offices have been jammed since with Cubans soliciting passports, renewing expired ones and simply trying to get more information.

Starting in January most Cubans will simply need a valid passport and a visa from another country in order to travel. Previously they needed to apply for an exit permit, the infamous “tarjeta blanca,” which was essentially an evaluation by the Cuban government if it was in the country’s interest, not the citizen’s, to travel abroad. Additionally, they were required to present an invitation letter from the family, friend or institution inviting them to visit. Both steps were extremely bureaucratic and costly, often leading to delays and denials. These requirements have now been eliminated.

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