It is already a fact: the awaited “migration reforms”, announced by Raul Castro a month and a half ago, arrive with a lot of noise — much ado about nothing. Published “casually” five days before the elections for delegates to the Municipal Assemblies of Popular Power, the modification to Law No. 1312 “Law of Migration” of September 20, 1976, was again the plastic carrot hung in front of the herd. Some simpleton might believe his opportunity in life has arrived, but the disillusionment — I really wish I were wrong on this point — sooner or later will reveal the true intention behind a decree where they repeat the verb “to authorize” too much which has ruled the destinies of a people confined to their borders for more than half a century.
According to my understanding of Decree-Law No. 302, issued by President Raul Castro October 11, 2012, and published in the Official Gazette last October 16, nothing changes for the professional Cubans — including those from the Public Health, needless to say — we continue dragging that cross that the government became by having devoted ourselves to the cultivation of knowledge. Once again it pays us so: leaving us at a clear disadvantage, violating our right to travel, depriving us of any opportunity to meet the world. Articles 24 and 25, subsections f, make it very clear when they exclude from leaving the country all those who lack “the established authorization, pursuant to the strict rules of preserving the qualified work force…” which with one blow leaves millions of Cubans out of the game.
One does not have to be really smart to notice that articles 23, 24 and 25, added entirely to the former Law of September 1976, give full power to the authorities to refuse passport, to refuse entry and equally to refuse exit from the country, respectively and according to subjective criteria, to any person inside or outside of Cuba, all of which serves to leave bare the true, hypocritical and deceptive nature of this law. Too much ambiguity leaves open Article 32, subparagraph h — and by extension the same subparagraph of Article 25 — when they establish that some clerk can refuse the award of the passport and/or exit from the country to anyone, “When for other reasons of public interest the empowered authorities determine…”, ambiguity which will serve to continue detaining millions of Cubans under this blue sky every time the Cuban Government feels like it. These articles and subparagraphs will be hanging, like the sword of Damocles, over all Cubans.
The other invidious facet of the matter: Article 24, by means of its subparagraphs c, d and e, establishes as “. . . inadmissible. . .” for entry into the country — because they put them into the same category as terrorists, human and arms traffickers, drug dealers and international money launderers — those accused by the Cuban Government of “…Organizing, encouraging, managing or participating in hostile actions against the political, economic, and social fundamentals of the Cuban State…“, “…When reasons of Defense and National Security so suggest…” and also — this is the little jewel in the crown — all those whom the Cuban Government considers must “…Be prohibited from entering the country for being declared undesirable or expelled.” If one wants it clearer, pour water on it: it is a given that those Cubans with political standards divergent from the Government lines will continue being deprived of travel, and in case they do manage to leave the country, they assume a high risk of not being permitted to return, and this includes, of course, the millions of Cubans and their descendants who live outside of their country.
Something remains clear: as long as one authority might prohibit those of us living in Cuba from leaving freely, and also prohibit that anyone of the millions that live outside return unconditionally to the embrace of their homeland, no one will be able to speak of real freedom of travel; this is an individual’s exclusive decision and will never be a clerk’s because, right to the end, it is inalienable. As long as they make us leave our families here as hostages as a prerequisite to travel abroad, freedom of thought is abridged with an exit blackmail, if even one Cuban is denied his right to freely come or go as his birthright, nothing will have changed in Cuba. Time will have the last word, but for now everything seems pure illusion; for the moment, on the balcony of Havana, this little room is just the same.
Translated by mlk.
October 25 2012