News and Facts about Cuba

If It’s Immigration and Travel Reform We’re Talking About

If It's Immigration and Reform We're Talking About… / Miriam Celaya

Miriam Celaya, Translator: Unstated

Cuban television news just broadcast with undisguised joy the statements

of the U.S. about the failure of immigration reforms in that

country. With images of Obama on the screen, although taking care, as

usual, not to directly broadcast the president's words, the Island's

media tried to discredit the "enemy" by highlighting another fiasco. It

turns out, however, that the authorities here continue to keep the most

hermetic silence about the essential immigration reforms in Cuba which —

according to what , the president of the National

Assembly, said many months ago — "are being studied." This is, without a

doubt, a most complex study, to by its length.

Meanwhile, Cubans on both shores continue to be forced to apply for

demeaning exit and entry permits in our own country, pay monthly fees to

our consulates in the countries we visit (if we want to have the right

to re-enter the Island, always remembering that we are allowed to be

gone only 11 months and 29 days), and pay ridiculously high amounts for

the most stigmatized passport on the planet. Because in the end, have

you noticed how much scorn the border authorities look upon us island

slaves when we travel? Note: I've only traveled outside of Cuba twice,

in 1999 and 2002, and on both occasions I noticed that glance.

In principle, every Cuban who aspires to travel goes to the offices of

Immigration and Foreigners, a weird name for an institution that deals

mainly with Cubans who, in significant numbers, want to emigrate.

Shouldn't it be called the Department of and Cubanness? There

the extortion we all know begins: You must come up with 55 CUC for the

fabrication of a passport which expires in six years and must be renewed

every two, raising the full cost to 95 CUC without any benefit to the

aspiring traveler. If you're lucky enough, you'll only have to spend 150

CUC more to get an exit permit — the infamous white card — and finally

you'll have to pay a 25 CUC tax at the when you leave. The

paperwork, in its totality, costs a fortune* for ordinary Cubans. In

most cases such expenses, and the passage, is paid by family and friends

living abroad, who — for their part — have to pay unconscionable amounts

when they decide to visit the Island.

In short, you as a Cuban pay for the fabrication of the world's most

expensive passport, a document that will serve almost exclusively for

the Cuban government to capture some juicy hard currency without having

to invest in anything more than cardboard, ink and the paper it's made

from. With this passport you will not only extend your condition as a

slave beyond the boundaries of the hacienda, but will also contribute —

like it or not — to nourishing the coffers of the very system that

humiliates you. Of course, I'm not suggesting renouncing travel, but I

do suggest that perhaps while the authorities are studying the

"migratory reforms" perhaps they could go ahead and apply some just

modifications. It occurs to me that, since they are the only

beneficiaries of the use of the passport by travelers, at least they

should include some of the "freebies" of the system. It would be curious

to establish the first "subsidized passport" in history in Cuba. This

would not change anything in our condition nor turn us in to citizens

with of movement, but at least it would to some extent diminish

the immense crust of cynicism of the Cuban authorities, something

they're in great need of.

*Translator's note: The total cost is more than a year's salary for the

average Cuban.

September 21 2012

http://translatingcuba.com/if-its-immigration-and-travel-reform-were-talking-about-miriam-celaya/

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