Monday, May 14, 2012
Hope For Cuba?
Ricardo Alarcon has residents, exiles and policymakers abuzz with speculation the much-hated exit visa could end, even if Raul Castor's government still carefully limits the travel of doctors, scientists, military personnel and others in sensitive roles.
In the past 18 months, Castro has removed prohibitions on some private enterprise, legalized real estate and car sales, and allowed compatriots to hire employees. Scrapping travel controls could be an even bigger step.
Even half measures such as staggeringly high visa fees or ending limits on how long Cubans can live abroad would be significant.
"If Cuba ends the restrictions on its own citizens' travel, that means the only travel restrictions would be those the United States imposes on its citizens", said Philip Peters, a Cuba expert at the Lexington Institute in Virginia.
Rumors of the exit visa's demise have circulated for years. The whispers became open chatter last spring after the Communist Party endorsed migration reform at a crucial gathering. Alarcon's comments published last month revived hopes.