Can Cubans Leave Cuba?(All You Need To Know)

Leaving our home countries to go on work trips or holidays is something that’s normal to many of us.

We can go abroad to Australia or the Swiss Alps with relative ease, and many of us don’t think twice about it.

Can Cubans Leave Cuba?(All You Need to Know)

We take our freedom to travel for granted, but that certainly isn’t the case for Cubans. 

The citizens of Cuba didn’t have these freedoms until almost a decade ago. Instead of being able to journey across the world, they were kept in their own borders for half a century.

Cubans were lucky if they could leave the country at all, especially if they were working class. 

For years, there were unnecessary bureaucratic processes that all Cubans had to go through in order to get on a plane.

Many of these processes were unjustly expensive, leading to even those who were working not being able to afford it. 

Where we could travel freely, simply with a passport and a few other necessities, Cubans could not.

That was, until the changes to the law in 2013 that changed everything for the beautiful country.

Only then were the people of Cuba free to leave their country to visit others and even work there. 

While it has never been easy for them, the government has taken steps in the right direction and are giving the people their freedom.

The situation has changed drastically over the last few decades, and a lot changed in that time. Only now, Cubans are getting the freedom they deserve.

Can Cubans Leave Cuba?

The answer to this question would have looked very different just a decade ago. Because of Cuba’s volatile history with countries like the US, it hasn’t always been a top spot for tourism.

In fact, many countries, like the US, banned their citizens from visiting Cuba for pleasure for some time.

Not only that, but the Cuban government itself closed its borders to the outside world in the early 1960s.

Only in 2015 under Barack Obama, were diplomatic relations restored between Cuba and the US.

These relations didn’t last long, however, as restrictions were once again put into place upon Donald Trump winning the election in 2017.

Over the years, there has steadily been less unrest in Cuba. The country opened its borders to tourists, and it became a popular tourist destination.

These changes have also led the people of Cuba to gain new freedoms that they hadn’t seen in a generation. 

With the changes of rules and regulations in the country, Cubans are now allowed to leave the island.

Like the people of other countries, Cubans now just need a passport and a visa for some countries.

However, travel can still be restricted for some of the country’s citizens. 

Why Is This A Popular Question?

This is a question that likely confuses many people. The history between Cuba and the United States has led to many changes in both countries over the years.

In the 1960s, Cubans were banned from leaving the country, and tourism to Cuba was banned by the United States. 

Now, with so many years that have passed, and with so much changing, it’s no surprise that people are looking for answers. 

However, in order to understand the present, you need to understand the past.

Understanding Cuba’s Past

Under the rule of Fidel Castro, who seized power in 1959, Cuba was aligned with the Soviet Union.

In 1960,the United States then placed an embargo on exports to Cuba and banned tourism.

As different US presidents have risen to the White House, licenses were expanded, restricted, and expanded again. 

President Barack Obama sought to normalize relations, and eventually restored diplomacy.

Under him, the “people-to-people” license was broadly interpreted and allowed for “educational” travel to take place.

However, in 2017, Donald Trump once again placed restrictions on the country.

He ended economic practices that “disproportionately benefit” Cuba, and more bans were put in place. 

There are now approval categories for those who want to visit Cuba.

This allows visitors for journalistic activity, government business, family visits, and sports teams.

Under Biden, restrictions are being rolled back, with more changes hopefully to come.

What International Travel Looked Like In Cuba Before 2013

Can Cubans Leave Cuba?(All You Need to Know)

Before 2013, any Cuban who wanted to leave the country would have to get permission from their place of work.

They would also require an exit permit, a visa, and a passport.

All of this cost money, which is why those in the working class were rarely able to leave the country. 

The price of these needed documents was simply too much for the average worker to be able to afford.

As such, the rich in the country were able to leave the country with relative ease. 

Not only that, but exit permits could be refused for many people.

The people who would have had their exit permits refused would likely have been individuals working in the health sector, or anyone awaiting trial. 

Overall, if you did not have the money to leave Cuba, even for a short time, it was a near impossible venture.

Because of the low wages of workers in Cuba, getting the required documentation to leave was only a dream for many.

Residency Rights

Cuban laws stated that anyone who left Cuba for 11 months or more would lose residency rights.

This rule alone impacted many people. Leaving the country to work abroad was necessary for many, as it was common for family members to work overseas to help with finances.

However, if anyone were to do this, they would no longer be classed as being worthy of Cuban residency. 

Because of this rule, almost 40,000 people were “lost” in the year 2010 alone.

Because of this, these people will have had to seek out new lives.

Even now, there are questions about where these people have ended up.

It wasn’t long ago that anyone who left the island was seen as being a traitor.

However, as times have changed, so too has the narrative.

Now, the primary cause for leaving the beautiful country is due to financial and economic reasons. 

What Travel Looks Like Now

Since January 14th 2013, Cuban travel restrictions were, for the most part, removed.

While documents are still required to leave the country, doing so is far easier than it was.

Instead of Cubans having their residency rights revoked after 11 months, the time was increased to 24 months. 

This alone has a huge impact on the people of Cuba, as this allows them to seek work in other countries.

Many people wish to leave Cuba for a time so that they can make enough money to live on and help their families.

Despite this, for Cubans to travel to some countries is still difficult.

Historically, there have been a number of political issues between Cuba and the United States.

Restrictions were imposed, then loosened, and imposed again, impacting relations and tourism. 

However, Joe Biden revoked many of these restrictions upon being elected president of the US.

Since then, travel to and from Cuba is far easier, but there are still rules and regulations in place due to the history. 

Final Thoughts 

Before 2013, the people of Cuba faced extreme difficulty if they wished to leave their country.

They were required to pay for not only passports and visas, but a permit to leave the country.

The people also had to be invited to a country, and their permits could be revoked.

If they left Cuba for 11 months or more, their residency rights were taken away. 

Thankfully, since 2013, changes have been made, and Cubans now have the freedom to travel, provided they can still get all the needed documents.

They are now able to find work overseas to pay for their families, and the residency restrictions have been raised significantly.

Now, only if a Cuban citizen stays out of the country for 24 months, will they lose their residency rights. 

Jim Stanton
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