Cuba, U.S. to hold second round of migration talks in Havana

HAVANA, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Cuba and the United States will hold another round of migration talks in Havana on Tuesday, officials said on Monday, as the two countries grapple with a crisis that has seen a record number of Cubans enter the United States. countries.

Talks on migration between the two countries resumed in April, the first such talks in four years after a long hiatus under former President Donald Trump. President Joe Biden’s administration has since announced that it will resume “full immigrant visa processing” in Havana on January 4.

In an interview with Reuters in Havana, Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio said the steps would deter illegal migration from Cuba but “were not enough.”

He said Tuesday’s talks would partly address fundamental issues, including U.S. immigration policy, which he said favors Cuban migrants over migrants of other nationalities.

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“The would-be Cuban migrant decides that he will ultimately be admitted if he succeeds in reaching the US border or entering US territory,” De Cossio said. “It’s a powerful incentive.”

A record 220,000 Cubans were caught at the U.S.-Mexico border in the 2022 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, shattering previous records. The vast majority were allowed to enter the United States to pursue immigration matters.

De Cossio cited the Cold War-era US trade embargo as another key factor behind the recent mass exodus. The sanctions, he said, are contributing to the island’s severe economic crisis, which has resulted in daily blackouts and hours-long queues for food, fuel and medicine.

The deputy foreign minister also confirmed a Reuters report last week that Cuba, for its part, had agreed for the first time since the pandemic to accept US deportation flights carrying Cubans trapped at the US-Mexico border. The move could send a symbolic message to individuals who typically fly to Central America and travel north to the border.

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A spokesman for the US State Department confirmed Tuesday’s talks in Havana “to discuss the implementation of US-Cuban migration agreements”.

“These talks are routine and represent a continuation of our almost 30 years of cooperation with Cuba on migration issues as neighboring countries and are limited to the topic of migration,” the spokesperson added.

De Cossio said he would represent Cuba in the talks. Emily Mendrala, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs who attended the April talks, will represent the US, according to a Washington source familiar with the matter.


De Cossio told Reuters that Cuba had begun re-staffing its own embassy in Washington to follow the United States’ decision to increase staff and resume visa processing in Havana.

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“Since the end of last year, a very gradual process of personnel transformation has been underway [each of] the embassies concerned,” De Cossio said.

The Cuban embassy in Washington has been operating with a meager staff since October 2017, when the Trump administration expelled 15 Cuban diplomats. The US move was a protest against what the administration claimed was Cuba’s failure to protect staff at the US Embassy in Havana from a mysterious wave of medical “attacks”.

The expulsions dealt a new blow to former President Barack Obama’s rapprochement policy after decades of hostility and suspicion between Cuba and the United States.

Reporting by Dave Sherwood; additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Editing: Leslie Adler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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