Also published in The Huffington Post
Margarita Alarcón Perea
Changing tides in Cuba is now a major news item all over the place. During the closing session of the Cuban National Assembly (Cuban Parliament) President Raul Castro spoke of numerous issues and referred to others that will soon be implemented. One of these, which I like to refer to as the Cuban Revolutions Achilles’ heel, is the infamous “exit permit”.
For the better part of 47 years in order for a Cuban to travel outside the country he or she has required what is known on the island as a “white card” or exit permit. It is not white and it is not a card, it is a stamp issued by immigration officials who basically allow the individual to travel outside the island and remain outside for limited amounts of time established by said officials never exceeding 11months. Yesterday during part of his closing statement to the nations body of legislators Raul Castro hinted that this was soon going to be a thing of the past.
The ball is going to be on the other side of the court. Meanwhile, Cuban Americans and others in the US Congress continue to insist on restricting travel to the island by US and Cuban American citizens.
Travel restrictions in order to leave Cuba were implemented on the onset of the Cuban revolution to prevent criminals of the Batista regime from escaping trial. Unfortunately no one remembered to eliminate this restriction as time elapsed and it became part of the status quo. As Raul stated last night: “Cuban immigration is no longer political it is economic”, there is no reason to either prevent those from wanting to leave or from wanting to return.
Now the question will be how many countries will allow Cuban émigrés to enter their nations? My guess is many. Why? Precisely because of the facts that in spite of its Achilles heel, the Cuban Revolution has proven to be invincible. For all its faults and failures it is still here, it has managed to achieve and sustain a 98.7% literacy rate and one of the highest healthcare systems in the underdeveloped world. The island has a scientific and intellectual population that is the envy of anyone in the Western Hemisphere. It does not export revolution; it exports solidarity and revolutionary values. Many will in fact leave. But for all its faults, many more will return back home where they know they belong.