The History of the Exit Permit (Part 2)
Resolution No. 454, dated September 29, 1961, by the Ministry of the Interior (MININT), provoked a reaction from the most progressive sectors of the time. Mainly because MININT was not a competent authority to oversee the seizure of a person’s property. And the directive did not provide a regulatory basis by which the State would expropriate the properties of the people who decided to reside permanently abroad.
But the criticism did not deter the newly established revolutionary government. On December 5, 1961, the Council of Ministers, chaired at that time by the ailing Fidel Castro, enacted Law No. 989, which provided the “Measures to be taken regarding the real or personal property, or anything else of value, etc. of those who with unforgivable contempt abandon the national territory.”
The law empowers the Ministry of the Interior to grant exit permits to people who decide to travel abroad. It ratifies the imposition of permanent abandonment, regulated by Resolution No. 454. It also empowers this state body to issue appropriate regulations regarding leaving and returning to the country. It is from this law, that permission to enter the national territory is regulated.
According to the edited wording of Article 1, the abandonment is dated from the start and is concrete if there is no return. That is, the abandonment of the country is considered final, if the return does not occur within the term authorized at the time of departure.
The law also provides that, according to its precepts, when a person leaves the country permanently, all of their property — movable and non-movable, that is land, buildings, furnishings or any other type of property, rights, actions or values of any kind — is nationalized through confiscation by the Cuban State.
It also gave authority to the National Institute of Housing (formerly the Higher Council of Urban Reform) to take the necessary steps to implement the law with respect to confiscated property.
Supposedly the property would be confiscated to be made available to the people, which justified the regulation of departure and return to the country. But the implementation of this law has promoted the engorgement of state assets.
As happened with resolution 454 of the Interior Ministry, Law No. 989 does not specify which official of the revolutionary government is designated nor does it refer to the rule that grants such authority.
According to the factual basis of Act No. 989, its adoption is justified mainly for political reasons, although there is a sad attempt to show that it was for the good of society. At that time there was a change in political power, and those who disagreed emigrated. That fact, despite being a personal and individual choice, was seen as an affront to the nation and the existing leadership of the day; the country was, and still remains, the Revolution.
The law was a response to all these people who expressed their views and would never accept under any circumstances the revolutionary impositions. It remains in force today; although the nature of emigration has changed, nevertheless the legal basis remains the same.