Communist officials are certain to be uncomfortable about the prospect of dissidents raising their international profiles and building alliances abroad. But President Raul Castro’s government apparently feels the benefits outweigh the risks.
‘‘The dissidents are going to have the same criticisms as before, except that they’re going to be allowed to travel where they couldn’t before,’’ said Philip Peters, a veteran Cuba analyst at the Lexington Institute, a Virginia-based think tank. ‘‘I think it makes the Cuban government look stronger because they’re saying they have nothing to fear by having their political critics leave Cuba and come back.’’
The law contains a clause letting the government deny passports under some circumstances including for reasons of national security, and most assumed that article would be applied to the dissidents.
So some people remain skeptical that Sanchez, Farinas and perhaps others will be allowed to come and go freely
‘‘I don’t know,’’ said activist Elizardo Sanchez, who said he has pending invitations to Spain and other countries for his work heading up an organization that monitors human rights on the island. ‘‘We'll just have to wait and see.’’
Government officials’ problem with dissidents’ travel is essentially the opposite their concerns about other Cubans: The worry that young, talented, ambitious and highly educated islanders will seek their fortunes elsewhere. But always-cautious Cuba surely feels it will win this gamble as well.
The law contains provisions encouraging Cubans to return by letting them stay overseas longer while still retaining the right to come back, hopefully pumping money into the struggling economy through remittances and any savings brought home. And a slight migratory outflow could ease social pressure, with the most discontent people opting not to return home.
‘‘This is a calculated risk because they obviously feel that they can endure,’’ Bardach said. ‘‘Otherwise this would not be something that would be done. Nothing happens in Cuba fast.’’
Associated Press writers Anne-Marie Garcia and Andrea Rodriguez in Havana contributed to this report.
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