Tuesday, June 26, 2007

You're outta here!

In my note on Man of Two Havanas, I took issue with the way the film assigns blame to the U.S. government alone for the separation of Cuban families, making no mention of Cuban policies such as the unique concept of salida definitiva for emigrants.

A reader asked for a precise definition of salida definitiva, so here goes.

I consulted a number of sources and while one can find lots of references to it, I found no official Cuban definition of salida definitiva in Cuban immigration law or regulations.

But Cubans seem to have no doubt as to what it means. Barring unusual circumstances (such as marriage to a foreign national), a Cuban who seeks to leave Cuba to live abroad has to apply for the salida definitiva.

The salida definitiva implies that a person who departs lose rights under Cuban law – most importantly, the right to own or inherit property, and the right to return to one’s own country at will. One may return with the Cuban government’s permission, for up to 21 days. If one transfers property just before being approved for the salida definitiva, those property transfers are nullified. When a person is approved for salida definitiva, the government inventories his property and takes possession of it upon departure. Critics call it a form of exile.

To be sure, the Cuban government has shown an attitude in recent years of being more interested in having Cubans abroad come back for visits. (And in economic and political terms, those visits are profitable.) The pasaporte habilitado is a recent example; when granted, it allows Cubans living abroad to return to Cuba for visits without applying for permission to enter each time.

But as a legal matter, the salida definitiva is like losing one’s citizenship. It adds to the Cuban people’s separation.

I’m happy to post readers’ amplifications or corrections.


Anonymous said...

Im married to a cuban girl and we have been living outside in europe for 6-7 years now with 3 kids. After last visit to cuba variouse opprtunities showed up for me to live in cuba and we would like to go back and stay at least for a few years. BUT - my wife have "Salida definitia" as she never were granted permission to leave country in the normal way with "pre" - reason was "confidential".
Do you know if we have ANY change to change it back or if I have right to drag my family with me if I start a "empresa" down there?


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