Photo: fbeljaars via flickr
Fidel Castro’s little brother Raul is continuing to loosen restrictions in Cuba, now letting his people take a vacation.According to the Daily Mail, the Communist party paper Granma announced Cubans would no longer need an exit visa. As of January 14, citizens of the country can go abroad with only a passport, and stay wherever they like for up to 24 months without risk of losing property.
For the past 51 years, even if someone got the required documents, which could cost up to $350, they weren’t always allowed to actually leave the country.
The restrictions would still be in place for people Cuba doesn’t want to leave, like doctors and other professionals.
The United States has slowly lifted its own restrictions in regards to travel to Cuba, originally put in place to isolate the island after Fidel Castro took power in 1959. While it technically wasn’t illegal, tourists couldn’t spend money, making the trip pointless.
But determined travellers found ways to get in, often going through Canada, or other countries in the Caribbean. In 1999, American tourists could go to Cuba on “people-to-people” licenses, essentially educational trips on which travellers weren’t allowed to spend US dollars.
George W. Bush did away with them when he took office. President Barack Obama brought back the licenses in 2011.
The US has a lot to gain from lifting its restrictions. Daily Beast writer Arian Campos-Flores found that the US tourism industry could make close to $1.6 billion.
Boost the economy and get fresh mojitos? What are we waiting for?
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