100´s of thousands of Cuban´s eligible for Spanish Citizenship and Passport under new rules

Hundreds of Cubans cued outside the Spanish Embassy in Havana on Monday on the first day Spain began taking applications for Spanish citizenship under the country’s “historic memory” law.

The law makes grandchildren of Spanish immigrants eligible for citizenship, which officials estimate could result in as many as 200,000 Cubans seeking a Spanish passport.

Spain has said 1 million people around the world could qualify to become Spaniards.

A Spanish passport is prized by many Cubans who view it as a way to get off the island, from which at least a million people have left since Fidel Castro took power in a 1959 revolution and installed a communist government.

Spanish citizenship would eliminate some obstacles now in place for Cubans to travel but not the need to get permission from the Cuban government. Doctors and nurses and some other professions would be banned from leaving Cuba, usually within a 5 year window of graduating under current unwritten rules. Also, key staff at certain enterprises also have great difficulty obtaining the “carta blanca” (white card) a type of exit permit which must be requested from the Cuban immigration authorities to be able to leave the island. Obtaining this “white card” is notoriously difficult and those deterred from leaving find the process impossible.

“I want to travel to Spain and see how it goes for me there,” said Oralia Quevedo, 68. “You can’t lose anything trying.”

“I’m doing it for my 6-year-old son so that when he’s older he can travel,” said housewife Sylvia, 36, who did not give her full name.

This will inevitably be another drain on Cuba´s well educated population amidst growing discontent on the island due to financial woes. Furthermore, last week’s speech by Raul Castro where he says that his “reforms” will have to be put on hold, these reforms being a glimmer of hope for young Cuban’s since Raul Castro took over the country from his brother in 2008.

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