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The History of the Exit Permit

April 9, 2010 Leave a comment

The first Cubans to leave

From the beginning, the regulation of exit permits in Cuba had an eminently political character. The first judicial directive of the Revolutionary Government on this subject was put into effect on September 29, 1961, through Resolution No 454 of the Ministry of the Interior, and it was done on the basis that people who were leaving the national territory abandoned their properties with the “deliberate intent of circumventing the decisions of the revolutionary government.”

The rule considers this action as proof of guilt, since it assumes that whoever acted in such a way were elements that were contrary to “the principles and popular orientations of the Socialist Revolution.” This is why it allowed citizens who were leaving the national territory to be granted an exit permit for:

* 29 days, for those traveling to the United States of America;
* 60 days, for travelers going to other countries in the Americas;
* And 90 days, for those embarked for the European continent.

Although it recognizes that these people were leaving their possessions in control of their “families, friends or holders,” if they did not return after a certain period of time after the exit permit was granted, they were considered to be definitely abandoning the national territory and consequently the State would proceed to confiscate all their personal properties and valuables.


The first Cubans to arrive in Florida.

This directive was published in the Official Gazette No. 196 on October 9, 1961, the date that it took effect. But the resolution was not signed by any government functionary. Nor did it make any reference to the judicial directive that authorized the power to legislate. Not to mention that this rule, from its inception, contradicted the constitutional principles enshrined in the “Fundamental Law of 1959.”

According to the constitution then in effect, the Ministry of the Interior was not a competent authority to dispose of the property of another person. Neither did the directive regulate under what conditions the state will dispose of the properties of people who will decide to reside  permanently out of the country. Nor the indispensable requirements for this forced expropriation to be legal. In other words, it did not make any allusion to the effective indemnification, the public utility cause or social interest, and the rights of the impugned in front of a competent tribunal to appeal the government decision.

Translated by Teddy Garcia and Gil Rodriguez

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