Since 1959, when the Cuban revolution put Fidel Castro and the current communist government in power, Cuba's strict travel restrictions have prevented many of its citizens from ever leaving the country.
However, since taking over the country from his ailing brother Fidel in 2008, Cuban President Raoul Castro has brought with him limited government reforms. His government announced that it will no longer require citizens to get an exit visa or present a letter of invitation from a foreign individual or institution in order to travel outside the country. Starting in January, those desiring to depart Cuba need only a passport and a visa from the destination country. They can remain abroad for up to two years and then request an extension.
This good news will not extend to everyone. Travel restrictions will still likely remain for those individuals in highly skilled professions, like doctors, because the government hopes to prevent a "brain drain". Trained professionals could potentially make much more money abroad than in communist Cuba.
Cubans in Havana greeted the announcement with surprise and delight. However, the State Department urged caution, saying that until January, they are not sure how the policy will actually be implemented.
"I'm very happy, really happy, because we can now see our families. We can reunite and come and go just like everywhere else in the traveling world," - Isabel Anderes, Cuba.
1. Where is Cuba? What do you know about it?
2. What is a communist government?
3. Who is Fidel Castro?
4. Have you ever traveled outside the country? What documents did you need to get before leaving?
1. What did you learn about Cuba from this report?
2. What is a "brain drain"? Do you think this policy will lead to a brain drain in Cuba?
3. Is the right to travel a basic human right? Why or why not?
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