Educated Cubans banned from emigrating for five years

Educated Cubans banned from emigrating for five years

Educated Cubans banned from emigrating for five years

In spite of the recent announcement by Cuban authorities that travel restrictions are being eased, those most likely to leave the country are now unable to do so.

The previously convoluted exit visa process has been modified, with those wishing to leave now needing only the latest passport. However, the government has closed the door on Cubans with university degrees, forcing them to wait five years before they emigrate.

The aim of the new regulation is to keep qualified personnel in the country in order to further its economic and scientific development, with the five-year ban on leaving supposedly reflecting the time taken to train up a replacement. According to the Cuban Communist newspaper, the measure is in response to US immigration rules encouraging a Cuban brain drain.

Benigo Guerra, a 58-year old graduate biology teacher, has worked in Cuban schools all his professional life, but is planning to leave for Germany, taking his family with him. Now he’s forced to wait until he’s 63 before he can live out his dream in Europe.

Although he’s disappointed, he says he understands the government’s reluctance to lose the best and brightest without a fight. Independent journalist Jose Fornaris, head of the Association for Press Freedom, believes the easing of emigration rules won’t have much impact on people’s lives, as those desperate to leave will still hire or build boats and set sail for Central America or the US as they always have.

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