Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2022. 11:45 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: As Cuba and the United States prepare to meet for long-delayed migration talks, a Cuban official has characterized Washington’s approach as “differentiated and incoherent,” according to the Jamaica Observer.
There has been a dramatic increase of arrivals of Cubans at America’s southern border, some tracking through Central America to get there.
Deputy Foreign Minister Josefina Vidal told a small group of journalists on Tuesday that where the U.S. gives financial assistance to other countries in the region to reactivate their economies, create jobs and bolster health and education, it is applying “maximum pressure to the economic order and through coercive measures” to Cuba, a reference to the long-standing economic embargo.
Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter that the meeting will be held in Washington Thursday and its delegation will be headed by deputy minister Carlos Fernández de Cossio. The last of these meetings — which according to agreements between both countries must be held twice a year — took place in July 2018, under the administration of then President Donald Trump who ended the policy of rapprochement between both nations that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had begun.
Trump’s increased sanctions and the pandemic sent Cuba into an economic crisis with shortages of basic products, power outages and the respective queues and rationing. Successor Joe Biden did not relax the tough measures, despite his campaign promises.
“We do not see any justification for not giving all visas to Cuban immigrants in Havana and forcing the majority of Cubans to travel (to Guyana), with the costs that this implies,” added Vidal, who was the head of negotiations for the historic rapprochement with the US in 2014. The talks concluded with the reopening of diplomatic offices and Obama’s trip to the island.
On Tuesday, Vidal presented a gloomy picture. Cuban authorities have said that in the last five years Washington has failed to comply with the part of a bilateral agreement that establishes the delivery of 20,000 visas per year.
According to US Customs and Border Protection, in the last six months Cubans were stopped 79,800 times at the southern US border, a little more than double that number seen in the entire 2021 fiscal year and five times more than in 2020. Sea crossings have also increased, either in rustic boats or at the hands of traffickers. From October to date, the US Coast Guard intercepted 1,257 Cubans, compared with 838 in 2021.
Vidal said there is a “historical regularity” with how these dramatic migratory peaks occur when the US fails to comply with agreements, increases sanctions or puts obstacles to a more or less normal processing of visas. America has placed additional pressure on the region to make specific requirements for Cubans in transit such as in Panama and Costa Rica which now require transit visas while ally Nicaragua does not.
Cuba has been talking to both Belize and Mexico. Recently as many as 39 Cubans have been caught in Belize trying to get to Mexico and ultimately the U.S.
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