Latin America Advisor

Latin America Advisor

A Publication of The Dialogue

Why Is the Cuban Gov’t Changing Migration Rules?

Cuba’s government announced new migration rules this month. A U.S. Coast Guard vessel is pictured transporting Cuban migrants off the coast of Key West, Fla., last October. // File Photo: U.S. Coast Guard.

The Cuban foreign ministry on May 16 announced a set of new measures amid an unprecedented exodus of migrants to the United States. The new rules, which will take effect July 1, seek to ease restrictions on Cuban citizens abroad. They include extending the validity of passports from six to 10 years for citizens over the age of 16 and reducing the costs associated with renewing travel documents. The ministry also scrapped a requirement that Cubans pay a fee every two years to maintain their active status. What is the Cuban government’s motivation for making the changes? How will the new rules influence migration flows? What effect will they have on the ties between Cuba and its diaspora?

Julio M. Shiling, political scientist and director of Patria de Martí: “Since its inception, Cuban communism has cleverly made use of geography. Facilitating exoduses every time a social crisis threatens its existence, Havana’s Marxist regime has indirectly fostered escape valves for Cubans. This has been done like clockwork. The Freedom Flights, Operation Peter Pan, Camarioca Flotilla, Mariel Flotilla, Rafter Exodus, third country exits and subsequent U.S. border crossings are just some of the large-scale mechanisms employed. The Cuban regime’s reasoning is premised on pure logistics. Promoting political inefficacy among the discontented population is better achieved if they can be transferred outside its territory, placed in jail or domesticated. The communist government also came to realize that the division of the Cuban family made for good economics. Remittances from Cubans residing in exile have proved to be…”

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The Inter-American Dialogue publishes the Latin America Advisor every business day for a distinguished membership of informed corporate leaders, scholars, and government officials invested in Latin America’s development and future. The Advisor‘s highly regarded Q&A section covers questions submitted by subscribers themselves. Commentators regularly include heads of state, business leaders, diplomats, economists, analysts, and thought leaders from around the world. Many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing companies subscribe to the Advisor. To subscribe click here or for more information, contact Gene Kuleta, editor of the Advisor, at

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