Cuba Says It Will Attend Migration Talks With the US

Apr 19, 2022
5:27 PM

U.S. flag flies at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, March 18, 2019 days after the U.S. State Department announced it was eliminating a five-year tourist visa for Cubans. Cuban authorities confirmed on April 19, 2022 that migration talks with the U.S. will take place, the first in four years since the hardening of relations between both countries and amid an increase in arrivals of Cuban citizens to the southern border of the U.S. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

HAVANA (AP) — Cuban authorities said Tuesday that migration talks with the United States will take place this week, the first in four years since the hardening of relations between both countries and amid a sustained increase in arrivals of Cuban citizens at the southern border of the U.S.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter that the meeting will be held in Washington on Thursday and that 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.

Trump ended the policy of rapprochement between both nations that his predecessor Barack Obama had begun.

Trump increased sanctions against the Caribbean island, from the cancellation of permits to send remittances or cruise ships, to penalties for companies from third countries that operate in Cuba, to limitation of flights and punishment of oil tankers bound for Cuba.

Trump also withdrew embassy staff in 2018. Thousands of people were left without completing family reunification processes or were prevented from traveling unless they carried out visa procedures through Guyana.

The pandemic further complicated things, and Trump’s successor, President Joe Biden, has not relaxed the tough measures, despite his campaign promises.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in the last six months, Cubans were stopped 79,800 times at the southern U.S. border, a little more than double the entire 2021 fiscal year and five times more than 2020.

Cuban authorities said that in the last five years the United States had also failed to comply with part of the bilateral agreement that establishes the delivery of 20,000 visas per year.

Cuba held migratory talks during that period with countries such as Canada, Belize, and less than a month ago with Mexico, which is seeing more Cubans at its borders. Cubans have been arriving there irregularly —in trips plagued by smugglers and dangerous routes— with the aim of entering the United States.