Nearly 30,000 Cubans have received US visas since January through a new immigration program, the US charge-in-chief in Havana, Benjamin Ziff, announced this Friday in an interview with AFP.
To combat illegal immigration, Washington launched a program in January to accept 30,000 immigrants each month from Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba and Haiti.
In the case of Cuba, the country from which 313,000 islanders are expected to arrive illegally in the United States in 2022, “more than 29,000” visas were issued “from January to date,” he said.
In early January, four years after the consulate was closed due to reported health incidents affecting diplomatic personnel, the embassy resumed issuing visas to Cubans.
However, he did not provide figures for the total number of Cubans who applied for the program. Additionally, Cubans are still unable to apply for tourist or business visas in their home country, as was the case before the consulate was closed in 2017.
Most recently, nearly 300 independent workers and small business owners sued President Joe Biden in an open letter to honor his commitment to support the nascent local private sector, specifically with issuing business visas.
“I have less than a third of the staff that I had five or six years ago in the consular section. I can’t provide full service unless I’m fully staffed,” Ziff replied.
He also blamed “the Cuban government” for not allowing the diplomatic mission “to obtain housing for the new consuls” and for “importing materials to repair the embassy”.
“It’s more of a logistical obstacle than a political one,” he said.
He also indicated that the number of illegal immigrants crossing the Strait of Florida, which separates Cuba from the United States, has “reduced”, going from “dozens a day” to “dozens a week” since January. Has been “There is no illegal way to get to the United States. Those arriving by sea or land (…) will be repatriated,” he warned.
Ziff rejected the allegation made by Havana that the US embargo and the intensity of sanctions under the administration of Donald Trump (2017-2021), barely eased by his successor, stimulated the unprecedented migrant wave that would hit the island in mid-2021. Left a serious economic crisis.
“The Cuban government is responsible for a democratic and prosperous Cuba, for the Cuban economy (…) which depends on Cuba, not the United States,” he replied, noting that “emigration is a lack of hope”. inspired by.”