Cuba relaxes rules on family migration to capital

AP News
Posted: Nov 22, 2011 10:28 PM
Cuba relaxes rules on family migration to capital

Cuba on Tuesday relaxed a rule that limits islanders' internal movement, reducing bureaucratic hurdles associated with migration to Havana for people with immediate family members there.

Spouses, children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren and siblings of Cubans with legal residence in the capital will no longer have to ask for prior permission to come to Havana, according to a decree that appeared in the Official Gazette, a government publication that disseminates new laws.

The decree does not affect restrictions on overseas travel.

The measure signed by President Raul Castro partially modifies a controversial regulation under which people found in Havana who cannot prove legal residence or an official reason for being there can be sent back home and fined.

Presumably that policy still applies to people who are not close relatives of Havana residents, and it was not immediately clear how people would obtain documentation demonstrating that they have immediate family members in the capital.

The rules on internal movement were adopted in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union, the island's main benefactor and trade partner, created a severe economic crisis. The goal was to avoid a massive economic migration to the capital, where much of Cuba's industry and tourist centers are located.

"Although the causes and conditions that at that time motivated the adoption of the aforementioned decree still exist," read the new measure, dated Oct. 29, "it is advisable to exempt from the bureaucratic procedure ... certain people from other provinces of the country who seek to move permanently to Havana."

Cuba is implementing economic reforms under which small private businesses have mushroomed and the government has permitted the free sale of homes and cars.