The Cuban government announced today that it is re-imposing a travel permit requirement on many doctors, requiring them to get permission to leave the country in an attempt to counter a brain drain that it blames on the United States.

It is the first major reverse in Cuba’s policy of allowing unrestricted travel for its citizens, put in place in 2013 as President Raul Castro allowed new freedoms as part of a broad set of social and economic reforms.

A report by the Jamaica Observer says the Cuban government announced on the front page of state media that health professionals in specialties that have been drained by large-scale emigration in recent years will now be required to get permission from Health Ministry officials in order to leave the country.

The new policy was announced hours after the end of a meeting yesterday between US and Cuban negotiators in Washington to address a crisis in Cuban migration, which has reached its highest levels in at least two decades.

The government announcement cited anesthesiology, neurosurgery, obstetrics, gynaecology and neonatal care as among the specialties worst-hit by emigration of doctors in recent years.

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