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Cuba issues passport to dissident blogger

CUBA DISSIDENTS | 31 de enero de 2013

Cuban authorities issued a passport to dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, seen here speaking at an event last June. EFE/File

Havana, Jan 31 (EFE).- Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez received a passport this week amid an overhaul of Cuba's highly restrictive migration policies.

"Incredible!!. They called me at home to tell me my passport was ready!. They just gave it to me!," the blogger said on Twitter.

Sanchez, the recipient of several international awards, has been denied an exit permit on 20 separate occasions over the past five years.

The elimination of the requirement for exit permits is a key element of the new migration regime that took effect Jan. 14.

"Here it is, now I need to be able to board that plane," Sanchez said in a second tweet that included a photo of her new passport.

The blogger told Efe Thursday that she is already planning trips abroad.

The migratory reform also extends from 11 to 24 months the time a Cuban citizen can remain abroad on personal business and provides for brief visits to the island by expatriates, including those the Communist government regards as having "illegally" abandoned the country.

Even so, the government reserved the right to refuse passport applications on grounds of "public interest" or national security, and to bar people with certain skills and training from emigrating.

Authorities invoked the public interest clause in refusing to issue a passport to former political prisoner Angel Moya, who recounted the episode to Efe.

A clerk in a government office told Moya he could not receive a passport because he was freed from prison on parole, meaning that his sentence technically remains in effect.

Moya's wife, fellow government opponent Berta Soler, has been advised that her passport will be issued Feb. 8.

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