Tampa teenager Melissa González wanted to visit her ailing grandfather in Cuba. But her travel agency told her that the Cuban government had turned down her request for an entry permit, without explaination.
No doubt, said her father, Jorge Luis Gonzalez Tanquero, she was turned down because he is a former political prisoner who spent 7 ½ years in prison and has continued to blast the Cuban government since his arrival in South Florida in February.
Whatever the reason, Melissa now belongs to the little-known group of Cubans living abroad who are banned by Havana from visiting the island — anywhere from 77,000 to 300,000 — for reasons that range from illegal departures from Cuba to political activism.
But Cuban ruler Raúl Castro cast an indirect light on the issue last week when he declared that his government was working on the “reformulation” of migration regulations that have been in effect for a long time “unnecessarily.”
“We are taking this step as a contribution to the increase in the country’s links with the emigrant community,” Castro added, noting that in recent years Cubans have been leaving the island more for economic than for political reasons.
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