Trapped Under Castro's Regime: How Cubans Are Prisoners in Their Own Country


When asked whether Cubans should be entitled the right to travel freely, Cuban President of the National Assembly Ricardo Alarcon said that if that right existed, the sky would become so crowded with airplanes that some would collide with others, causing great disaster. 

The ability to travel is a privilege, not a right in Cuba.  Cubans should be able to travel freely, and  they must be able to obtain a visa to travel from foreign countries, something which is currently often impossible due to the lack of  diplomatic relations with other countries.    

Currently, Cubans must fit into one of three categories in order to gain the ability to travel. The first is someone holding an exceptional status, which allows  him/her to leave and enter freely at will. These people are few and far between and are usually married to foreigners or are prominent members of the political and intellectual elite and their families. In other words, politicians and other important, educated people may come and go from the island as they please. However, this exception status can easily be revoked if the person demonstrates any political behavior that is unacceptable to the government.

The second person is someone who is leaving on an official assignment, such as an official, student, artist, or technician. These individuals must have an official institution to authorize and sponsor their trip and every time they travel abroad, their passport must be redirected by Cuban authorities. In essence, the government only allows these people to better themselves and be productive if they can prove that's actually what you're doing, and only if you promise to come back to the country. If the the person decides not to come back to Cuba, they are considered a deserter and lose all rights of citizenship and can't return to Cuba for up to five years. Likewise, their family that's still on the island will be condemned off the island for several years.

The final person is someone going on a private trip. Private trip takers fall into two categories; those making the definitive exit and those planning to only travel temporarily. Making the definitive exit means that they are emigrating and cannot return to live in Cuba. By doing this, a person loses all rights and property on the island. When a person is only traveling temporarily, they may remain outside of the country for up to eleven months. If they don't return once the eleven months are up, then they are considered to be a definitive migrant, or deserter.

For decades, Cubans have endured a harsh government. Many have taken the risk, leaving everything behind just for the chance at a better life. As unfair as the Cuban government may be, many could never dream of parting with their home, so why should they be punished for wanting to see the world? 

While it may be understandable that the Cuban government may feel that their citizens would never come back, it's not right to hold people hostage.It's understandable for historical reasons that various countries are reluctant to issue visas to Cubans, but it's time things changed for the better for the people of Cuban.