Signs of Progress in Cuba?


January 3, 2013


Americas Quarterly Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini spoke to Laura Ingle on Fox News’ “On the Hunt” on Thursday to analyze whether reforms to Cuba’s migration policy will bring real change to ordinary Cubans, and how the U.S. should respond.

During the interview, Sabatini discussed the Cuban government’s new laws and regulations governing travel and emigration, promulgated in October 2012 and set to go into effect on January 14. The reforms have liberalized the Cuba’s travel and emigration policies by removing a 50-year-old requirement that Cubans secure an exit visa before leaving the country, and by extending the amount of time they can live overseas, among other changes.

Sabatini said that it remains to be seen whether the changes on paper will have a meaningful effect on the number of Cubans who are permitted to travel abroad, since ordinary Cubans will likely find it difficult to afford passports, and the Cuban government can still deny passports based on national security and other concerns.

Arguing that there is a “huge, pent-up demand for change in Cuba,” Sabatini says that the reforms are an “implicit recognition of the failure of the Castro regimes.”

“Large-scale structural change is not happening in Cuba. You speak to young people, and most of them say, we just want to go elsewhere,” Sabatini says.

Meanwhile, Cuba’s travel reforms signal an opportunity for the U.S. to liberalize its own policies toward travel to and from the island. While an act of Congress is required to lift the U.S. travel ban to Cuba. “We need to begin to recognize that this is not a zero-sum game,” Sabatini says, adding that the U.S. needs to explore greater communication and commercial exchange between private actors in the two countries.

Watch the full interview here.

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