It is a faustian bargain for Cuban-Americans; citizenship privileges and rights in exchange for political affiliation and endorsement of the Cuban government."
Cuba recently shifted its policy on citizenship, allowing Cuban-Americans to apply for Cuban citizenship. It is an interesting time in Cuban immigration politics. In January 2017, the Obama administration repealed a 1995 measure granting right to stay, the right to apply for work permits and green cards to all Cubans who had arrived in the United States whether or not they had visas.
Then later U.S. President Trump remarked in June 2017, "For nearly six decades, the Cuban people have suffered under communist domination. To this day, Cuba is ruled by the same people who killed tens of thousands of their own citizens, who sought to spread their repressive and failed ideology throughout our hemisphere, and who once tried to host enemy nuclear weapons 90 miles from our shores."
This history has influenced U.S. policies towards Cuba. Following the partial withdrawal of staff from the U.S. embassy in Havana in September due to the sonic attacks controversy, in November 2017, the Trump administration made it harder for persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to travel to Cuba, or to conduct business with Cuban entities associated with Cuba's military, intelligence, or security services. It is an extensive list of hotels, stores, tourist agencies, rum producers and real estate services, likely frequented by U.S. travellers.
Reflecting the parlous state of affairs in Cuban-American relations, and in an political step designed to provoke antipathy in the U.S. administration, the Cuban government is now offering citizenship to Americans born to Cuban parents. It is a faustian bargain for Cuban-Americans; citizenship privileges and rights in exchange for political affiliation and endorsement of the Cuban government.
Specifically, Cuban-Americans who wish to take up Cuban citizenship must take an oath of alliance to Cuba's one-party rule and cannot have parents who were outspoken critics of Cuba's regime. There is also a Cuban citizenship test to confirm an applicant's knowledge of Cuba's government, Cuba's history, and Cuban news reports.
Like many of the citizenship requirements I have covered to date on Spain and the Philippines, there are language and cultural requirements that applicants must demonstrate and Cuba is no exception.
But should you do it?
Many countries already require citizenship applicants to undertake steps to demonstrate their allegiance or fitness to become a citizen. If you do not believe in country's government, or for reasons that compelled you to leave Cuba in the first place (if you were a refugee or sought political asylum for example), then applying for Cuban citizenship is not a good idea and there are language, cultural and political hurdles to overcome even if you are entitled to Cuban citizenship.
Dual citizenship rules
Article 32 of the Cuban constitution is clear that it does not recognise dual citizenship. As such, if you are Cuban dual citizen, the U.S. government advises that the Government of Cuba treats U.S. citizens (and presumably other Cuban dual citizens) born in Cuba as Cuban citizens and may subject them to certain obligations.
Visa-free access is limited
The Cuban passport is also not one of the world's best in terms of visa-free access. Unlike the German passport which provides visa-free access to over 170 countries, the Cuban passport only provides visa-free access to about 60 countries in total.
Citizenship as a political tool
Citizenship of Cuba might appear straightforward but differences in values shape the ways the U.S. government and the Cuban government think about what citizenship means, through a combination of birth, ancestry or political adherence. Whatever the context of ongoing Cuban-American political relations, dual citizenship is emerging alongside the generational changes occurring within Cuba. It is perhaps a deliberate tilt to some kind of post revolutionary future notwithstanding the fraught political history.