Oct 17 2012

Cuba makes it easier to leave the country, while the US makes it harder

We’re pleased that Cuba has promulgated rules, effective January 13, 2013, which will eliminate the requirement for most (but not all) would-be emigrants to obtain the government’s permission to leave the country, and to make the issuance of a passport a matter of right for most Cuban citizens.

At the same time, the US has ordered airline common carriers not to allow any would-be passenger to board any international flight departing from the US without individualized prior permission from the government. Any attempt to leave the US, even by land, without a passport, has been criminalized, without any recognition of passport issuance as a right. The State Department, in its claimed “discretion” to deny passports to US citizens at whim, has increasingly been demanding that passport applicants answer impossibly detailed and irrelevant interrogatories to establish their identity and citizenship. At the same time, the State Department has tried to suppress knowledge of its own regulations which entitle passport applicants to establish their identity by the testimony of a witness rather than by paper credentials.

And the State Department continues to ignore our complaints that these practices violate US obligations under the same provisions of the same human rights treaties that the US has invoked against Cuba.

So our challenge to those in Congress who have criticized Cuba’s restrictions on freedom of movement is this:

By January 13, 2013, when these new rules take effect in Cuba, will you have introduced and enacted legislation to require the State Department to treat passport issuance as a matter of right for US citizens, and to repeal the prohibitions on departure from the US without government permission?

We encourage our readers and supporters to let your representatives know that you expect the US to do at least as much as Cuba’s government to effectuate the right to freedom of movement.