News and Facts about Cuba

Cuba unlocks the door

Cuba unlocks the door

The lifting of foreign restrictions is the most significant act

of liberalisation yet from Raúl Castro

By Telegraph View

8:22PM BST 16 Oct 2012

It has taken half a century but Cuba has finally bowed to the inevitable

and announced the lifting of foreign travel restrictions on its

citizens. From next January they will no longer require exit permits to

go overseas, leaving North Korea as the only communist state left that

continues to immure its own people. The move – announced on the 50th

anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis – is the most significant act of

liberalisation yet from Raúl Castro, who succeeded his brother Fidel as

Cuba's four years ago.

His cautious programme of economic modernisation, which has already seen

modest moves towards private ownership and some market reforms, was

ratified by last year's party congress, the first for 13 years. There is

no doubting Mr Castro's reforming instincts but the speed of change is

woefully slow. Cuba remains an impoverished country – the average

monthly salary is $20 – where corruption and cronyism are rampant. But

the lifting of travel restrictions may mark a step change in the

process. of movement will inevitably sharpen Cubans' appetite

for greater economic freedoms – or even more dramatic developments.

After all, it was the fall of the Berlin Wall that triggered the

collapse of communism in Eastern Europe.

This latest move will be watched with keen interest by the United

States, which will be the destination for most Cubans who decide to use

their new-found . Since 1966 Washington has granted

Cubans automatic residence if they can reach the United States – as many

thousands have, usually in makeshift vessels. Raúl Castro has dropped

his brother's anti-American posturing, recently declaring that good

relations between the two countries would be "mutually advantageous". He

seems to be backing his words with actions.

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