Cuba's migration reform has been in effect one year this Tuesday and has allowed thousands of its citizens to travel abroad without the restrictions they suffered for decades, but with other problems like the price of travel tickets and getting a visa.

The latest official figures show that between January and November 2013, some 185,000 Cubans traveled out of the country, many for the first time.

The United States, where most Cuban expatriates live, was the main destination, accounting for 36 percent of all trips.

Migration reform is one of the most notable measures of the plan undertaken by President Raul Castro to "modernize" the socialist economy, and which has included in recent years the elimination of some prohibitions and restrictions that weighed heavily on Cubans for decades.

But packing their suitcases and getting on a plane continues to be complicated for Cubans, who now face new problems but ones they have in common with other people around the world.

One problem is the cost of tickets - in a country where the average monthly salary scarcely reaches $20, many can't afford the $400 for a round-trip ticket to Miami, or the $1,200 to fly to Spain and back.

"Most Cubans don't have enough income to travel, and we young people can't save up and buy a passport and a ticket if we don't have friends or family abroad. Besides, every embassy sees us as potential emigrants," the 28-year-old university student Amanda Sanchez told Efe.

And if Cubans' big headache used to be obtaining an exit permit, which migration reform has eliminated, now the nightmare in most cases is getting a visa to the destination country.

Many complain that certain countries have toughened their visa policies toward Cubans with new requirements and piles of red tape like letters of invitation, bank guarantees and criminal-record documents.

"Cuba softened its laws but just the opposite happened with the embassies of other countries," Havana native Alexander Luis, 38, told Efe.

Among those who have been able to travel thanks to migration reform have been well-known dissidents like the leader of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, psychologist Guillermo Fariñas and human-rights activist Elizardo Sanchez.

So has blogger and critic Yoani Sanchez, who in 2013 went on several international tours after years of being repeatedly barred from leaving the country. EFE