Cuba considers more flexible migration rules
( dpa )- A month after Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro stepped down, the Cuban government was considering reforms to make migration regulations more flexible.
They could include the possibility of longer stays abroad and even the elimination of exit visas, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said Wednesday.
"We are firm in our commitment to make ever more fluid the relationship between Cubans living abroad and Cuba, and making the procedure and the regulations on that issue faster," Perez Roque said during a meeting in Havana with Cubans living abroad.
When asked whether relaxing laws on exit permits and the extension of stays abroad - now with an 11-month limit - are among reforms being mentioned since Raul Castro took over from his brother, Fidel, Perez Roque admitted that such issues "are being considered."
Several delegates at the meeting of Cubans Living Abroad Against the Blockade and Terrorism told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that there is even discussion about the possible elimination of the "carta blanca," the exit visa that Cubans need to leave the country.
Cuba is one of a few countries whose residents require exit visas to go abroad. The process, which sometimes includes the need for an invitation letter, costs Cubans some 400 dollars, a very high figure for a country where the average monthly wage is 15-20 dollars.
"We hope that even today (Wednesday) they will give us very good news here, even as from today there will be many new (migratory) laws that will come out of this meeting," said the delegate Juana Navarro, a resident of Germany.
Perez Roque said the "policy of aggression" by the United States against the island is "the greatest obstacle" to the "full normalization" of relations between Cuba and its migrants, but said the rapprochement is "continuous and irreversible."
He recalled that, of 1.3-1.5 million Cubans living abroad, more than 800,000 have consulted Cuban consulates, and almost 400,000 have "normalized" their migration status.
According to official figures, some 193,000 Cubans living abroad visited the communist island in 2007, which Perez Roque called a "new record."
The meeting from Wednesday-Friday included 129 representatives of Cuban organizations in 34 countries that are "committed and active" in Cuba's "main battles," Perez Roque said.