Support Cuba’s Decision to Reduce Travel Restrictions

Target: President Raúl Castro

Goal: Commend Cuba for lifting foreign travel permit requirements and encourage continued reform

The Cuban government has recently decided to lift its foreign travel permit requirements, making it much simpler for Cubans to leave their own country. Yet, some Cuban exile groups in the U.S. say the government has not gone far enough, pointing to numerous restrictions still imbedded in the law. While there may still be room for improvement, the abolition of these travel requirements is an important step. Commend Cuba for its decision and encourage the government to continue working to bring its country into alignment with basic human rights.

In the past, those that wanted to leave Cuba were labeled traitors and enemies of the revolution. Now, it is becoming more widely understood that those who leave Cuba often do so for economic aims, and in many cases to bolster the homeland with money sent from abroad or new skill sets upon their return.

The new laws will cut out what previously could have been an expensive and time-consuming process, and allow permanent residents of Cuba to live abroad for up to 24 months, contrasting with the current 11 month limit. This is good news for the global human rights effort; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights notes that everyone has the right to leave any country.

Yet, there are still obstacles to surmount. Now Cubans will only need a valid passport and a visa from their intended destination to travel. Unfortunately, the Cuban government can deny renewed passports for unspecified reasons of “public interest,” consequently retaining their absolute power over Cuban citizens. In addition, in an effort to prevent a further drain of skilled professionals from Cuban soil, highly-qualified individuals such as scientists, doctors, or military personnel will still face stiff exit restrictions.

This is a historic decision for Cuba. Join in commending the government and President Raúl Castro for this important decision, and encourage them to continue their efforts until all Cubans are free to travel at will.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Castro,

The Cuban government’s recent decision to lift the foreign travel permit restrictions is a historic move. Allowing Cubans their full rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not only good for individual citizens but for the country as a whole. Now, Cuban culture can spread more easily across the globe and those Cuban citizens that go abroad can contribute economically to your island nation, both monetarily and with newfound skills.

Yet, there are still troubling restrictions in place. The government still has the ability to deny any citizen an updated passport for any undisclosed reason, thus nullifying their chances of leaving the country. Furthermore, highly skilled individuals—from doctors to scientists to military personnel—still face stiff exit restrictions. I call upon your government to reconsider these points, as a failure to provide true global mobility to your people will be considered a failure to comply with human rights standards.

I ask that you use this opportunity to prove to the world your intentions to support your people and your country.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Mikelo via Flickr

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