Monday, February 6, 2023

Cuba and the US execute a new migrant round on the island

HAVANA ( Associated Press) – Officials from Cuba and the United States met in Havana Tuesday to discuss immigration issues, a topic of particular interest given the record exodus from the island to the United States.

The United States recognized the need to maintain a constructive dialogue with the island, and at the end of the day, Cuban officials insisted that migration was related to Washington’s sanctions and their economic impact. There was no US statement at the end of the meetings.

According to a press release from the US State Department, the visiting delegation was led by Deputy Under Secretary of State Emily Mandarla, while the Cuban side was represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cosio.

Nor did he provide details about the talks held, but according to Cuba’s deputy foreign minister, the issue of smuggling operations with boats coming into Cuba illegally was addressed.

In addition, the official pointed out, repatriation flights of people inadmissible to the United States or the Washington consular service on the island were evaluating progress. Cubans acknowledged that US authorities complied with the distribution of 20,000 migrant visas last year as established in the agreements.

On the United States side, the State Department statement saw the meeting as “an opportunity to discuss mutual implementation of bilateral migration agreements”. The text outlined a “commitment to conduct constructive dialogue with the Cuban government when appropriate to promote the interests of the United States”.

Cuba’s deputy foreign minister concluded that the meeting was “useful” to prevent “irregular, unsafe and disorderly” migration.

Fernandez de Cosio also reported that he conveyed to his counterparts his concern that the island encourages illegal departures. “There is no doubt that the policy, aimed at lowering the standard of living of the population, constitutes a direct incentive for migration,” the official said.

This is the second time this year – as established by bilateral agreements – that diaspora tours have been held, which were paralyzed in previous years.

According to official data from US officials in the 2021-2022 fiscal year – which began last October and ended last September – its officials had contact with more than 220,000 Cubans. Meanwhile, the United States Coast Guard indicated that in the same period it intercepted 6,182 migrants proceeding via sea.

Both figures are records, exceeding the number of people who left the island during the so-called malarial crisis in 1980, which recorded approximately 125,000 departures. In October, Cubans overtook Venezuelans as the second largest expatriate nationality after Mexicans.

Cuba is going through a severe economic crisis with shortages of food, medicine and basic necessities, while there are severe blackouts.

The situation is a mix of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic – particularly declining income from tourism – and adjustments to United States sanctions that are pressing for change in the island’s political model.

Last week US officials traveled to the island to coordinate the reopening of its embassy’s consular service in Havana – which is due to resume on January 4, after Washington withdrew more than half its staff from 2017. Paralyzed. diplomat.

The incidents could not be scientifically confirmed, but former President Donald Trump tightened sanctions and, among dozens of other measures, punished companies from third countries that operated with Cuba, banned cruises and visits, and Ships that brought oil to the island were persecuted. , Democrat Joe Biden’s administration has made some changes in this regard.

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Andrea Rodriguez is on Twitter as @ARodriguezAP

Nation World News Desk
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