As we mentioned a couple of days ago, the announced changes in immigration policy by Cuba’s apartheid dictatorship have nothing to do with “reforms.” Instead, it has everything to do with securing hard currency and distracting attention away from the Castro regime’s corruption and failures.
The Cuban dictatorship is desperate for cash and who better to provide it than the very Cubans it drove out of the country and into exile.
As they say here in Miami, aquí lo que cuenta es el cash!
Cuba policy on Cuban-American travel to the island has political and economic tentacles
New travel regulations that Cuba announced over the weekend appear designed to make sure a steady flow of Cuban-American visitors continues.
But the rules — which include welcoming back Cubans who fled the island through irregular means, such as by rafts, and eliminating some of the bureaucracy associated with visits by the diaspora — also seem to be a response to a chill in the U.S.-Cuba relationship and a stricter Trump administration policy on travel between the two countries.
In the wake of mysterious auditory incidents that have harmed the health of 24 American diplomats causing ailments ranging from hearing loss to concussions, the U.S. government withdrew 60 percent of the personnel at its Havana Embassy because it said the Cuban government had failed to protect its diplomats. Then the U.S. expelled at least 15 diplomats (17 by Cuba’s count) from the Cuban Embassy in Washington.
The State Department also issued a travel warning to Americans visiting the island and has announced it plans to further restrict travel to the island, but hasn’t issued its new regulations yet.These developments have threatened to put a crimp on travel between the two nations because there is only one consular officer left at the Cuban Embassy in Washington to process visas and other paperwork related to travel and a skeletal staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
There are still many questions about exactly how the new measures, which go into effect Jan. 1, will be implemented. But they could greatly increase the pool of Cuban exile and migrant travelers to the island and by extension the cash and gifts they bring to their relatives.
Last year, Havana Consulting Group estimated that cash remittances to Cuba rose 2.7 percent to $3.4 billion. Havana Consulting attributed the rise to an increase in Cuban migrants, who left mainly through informal means, and to the increase in flights between the United States and Cuba.
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