Migration is a highly politicized issue in Cuba and beyond its borders.
Dissident Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez expressed concern that officials might now control travel merely by denying passports.
Besides the exit visa, the new policy also eliminates the need for a letter of invitation from an institution or person in the destination country.
nearly all Cubans who reach its territory to remain, while those caught at sea are sent home and not penalized.
"It eliminates a horrendous and offensive bureaucratic obstacle to travel."
"I have the suitcase ready to travel. . Let's see if I get a flight for Jan. 14, 2013, to try out the new law," tweeted Sanchez, who said she has been denied an exit visa 20 times over the last five years. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the Obama administration was taking a wait and see attitude.
"These measures are truly substantial and profound," deputy immigration chief Col. Lamberto Fraga told a morning news conference. "What we are doing is not just cosmetic."
"Wow, how great!" said Mercedes Delgado, a 73 year old retiree. "Citizens' rights are being restored. . So will doctors, scientists, athletes, members of the military and others considered key contributors, as well as those who face criminal charges.
Under the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, the United States allows Nike Air Max Crusher 2 Grey
HAVANA, Cuba For the first time since the height of the Cold War more than half a century ago, Cuba is giving its people the freedom to leave the country without government permission, scrapping the detested exit visa that kept many from travelling outside the communist nation for even a few days.
Starting Jan. 14, Cubans will no longer have to apply for the costly "tarjeta blanca," or "white card," ending a restriction in place since 1961, the height of the Nike Air Max 90 Vs 1
my cousin who phoned from the United States," said Beatriz Suarez, a 35 year old Havana resident. "She's all worked up about this."
Announced in the wee hours in the Communist newspaper Granma and published into law in the official Gazette, word of the change spread like wildfire Tuesday and was the talk of the streets and office buildings. Islanders greeted the news with a mixture of delight and astonishment.
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"It's an important step forward in human rights, the ability to travel outside of your country without the government's permission," said Philip Peters, a longtime Cuba analyst at the Virginia based Lexington Institute think tank .
More than 1 million people of Cuban origin live in the United States, and many thousands more are in Europe and Latin America. attempts to topple the island's government, plant spies and recruit its best educated citizens. government and its allies," Granma said. "Therefore, measures will remain to preserve the human capital created by the revolution in the face of the theft of talent applied by the powerful."
"We obviously welcome any reforms that will allow Cubans to depart from and return to their country freely," she said. "We remain committed to the migration accords under which our two countries support and promote safe, legal and orderly migration."
The announcement Tuesday came as blockbuster news on the island, where citizens were ecstatic at the prospect of being able Red Air Max 90 On Feet to leave for a vacation or even forever with only a passport and a visa from the country of their destination.
The measure also extends to 24 months the amount of time Cubans can remain abroad, and they can request an extension when that runs out. Currently, Cubans lose residency and their rights to property, social security, free health care and free education after 11 months overseas.
While the measure greatly streamlines the travel process, analysts said it was unlikely to provoke a mass exodus.
An end to the hated exit visa had been promised since last year by President Raul Castro as part of his five year reform plan. Analysts called it the latest and biggest step in a gradual relaxation of restrictions on things like opening private small businesses, owning cellphones, staying in tourist hotels and buying and selling homes and cars.
"The Cuban government has kept for itself a couple of other checks on the ability of people to leave freely, including this issue of revalidating passports and this issue of claiming that they can preserve the human capital of the revolution in the country," Nuland said. "So we just need to see how this is implemented."
Cuba to allow citizens to travel freely for first time in 51 years
Still, Fraga said some people remain restricted to combat the brain drain that has already led many of the island's young and talented to leave for economic reasons.
"This is huge news. Everybody has been waiting for it for a long time," said Bertina Rodriguez, a 47 year old office worker. "Because it's a kind of opening, even if I think they're doing it so that people can't say this is a place where they keep people locked up."
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