A law massively easing travel restriction on Cubans came into effect today, removing a number of barriers to going abroad.
According to the statute published in the Official Gazette, Cubans can now travel abroad without an exit permit or a foreign invitation provided they have a valid passport.
Cubans will still need a visa in their host country and passports can be still be refused.
The law came into effect at midnight.
The law is one of the most far-reaching reforms introduced by President Raul Castro since he took over from his ailing brother Fidel in July 2006.
First announced last October, the measure does away with the exit visas and requirement for a letter of invitation that have kept most Cubans from traveling abroad.
Mr Castro's government has ended several unpopular restrictions since 2006.
Cubans can now stay in hotels geared to international tourism, sign mobile phone contracts and buy electrical appliances.
The new system also has allowed Cubans to buy and sell cars and private homes.
But the change taking effect today is Mr Castro's most dramatic to date and could be a stunning wake-up call to the US since it has the potential to set off a bilateral migration crisis.
Under a policy dating back to the cold war, the US still grants any Cuban who reaches US soil legal residency on request.
No such US policy exists for nationals of any other country.
With the US economy weak, the country had not been planning for a potential influx of thousands of Cuban immigrants arriving legally.
And given the hostility shown to immigrants from South America over the last few years, they are not likely to be greeted with open arms since Cuba has effectively challenged the US over a policy which was made simply as a provocation.
Despite travel restrictions in place since the 1960s, around two million Cubans have left the country in the last half century.
About a million Cubans and Cuban-Americans live in the US state of Florida alone. The population of the island stands at 11.2 million.
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