Cuba Says Welcome Back, Rafters

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HAVANA (UPI) — Cuba announced it will welcome the return of citizens who left illegally, including rafters to the United States, doctors and baseball players.

“We will normalize the temporary entry to the island of those who emigrated illegally after the 1994 migration accords [with the United States, designed to discourage leaving Cuba by raft],” said Homero Acosta, secretary of Cuba’s ruling Council of State.

The change is expected to allow the return of Cubans now banned from the island, estimated between 70,000 to 300,000 and mostly people who left by raft to the United States, including those branded defectors or traitors, and those wishing to return to care for ailing relatives.

While the Cuban government considers the move a normalization of immigration policy, analysts outside the country see it as an attempt to attract money through immigration fees, the Miami Herald reported Friday.

“I have to submit a humanitarian request so that someone can decide whether to allow me to return to where I was born? Big deal!” scoffed Juan Antonio Blanco, a former Cuban Communist Party Central Committee analyst now living in Miami.

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