How would you like to prohibited from migrating within your own country? That’s apparently the situation in Cuba, according to this CNN story.
Thanks to a mid-1990s law, rural migration to Havana is restricted, making it possible for Cubans to be illegal residents in their own capital city:
The government deported tens of thousands of people or forcibly removed them from Havana to other parts of the island,” said Daniel Wilkinson, America’s deputy director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s just one in a series of laws that place severe restrictions on Cubans [and] how they live, where they live, and where they work.”
“I was caught because I was an illegal,” explained a bicycle taxi driver as he gripped the rusted blue handle-bars of his vehicle in Havana’s Central Park. “And because I’d been here several times before, I was deported back.”
But the driver working his trade in the capital city did not arrive in Cuba from another country. Instead he is among the thousands who have come from rural provinces in search of work and a place to live – but who have been deported back because of “Decree 217.”
The 1997 law restricts rural migration to Havana, making this taxi driver an illegal resident in his own capital city.
“If you’re illegal you can’t be here in Havana,” said the driver, originally from Cuba’s eastern Holguin province. “You don’t have an address here in Havana.”…
Economic conditions were generally worse at the eastern end of the island, according to Cuba analyst Edward Gonzalez, a professor emeritus at the University of California Los Angeles.
“[The eastern region] has always been the less affluent, impoverished part of the island,” he said, “heavily dependent upon agriculture, less on tourism, and also happens to be more black and mulatto.”
The effort to keep migrants out and prevent overcrowding in Havana may have resulted in police discrimination against darker-skinned Cubans presumed more likely to be illegal, Gonzalez said.
But have no fear, there’s universal health care for everyone, even if those in the poorest part of the country are restricted from migrating and even if the average Cuban suffers long waits at government hospitals and many services and technologies are available only to the party elite and foreign “health tourists” who pay with hard currency.
(Hat tip: Coyote Blog)