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Press release from Cuban delegation to migration talks in U.S.

cuba ee uu banderasOn November 30, a new round of migratory talks took place between delegations from Cuba and the United States, respectively led by the Ministry of Foreign Relations’ Director General for the United States, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for South America, Edward Alex Lee.

During the meeting, the two parties reviewed the functioning of Migratory Accords between the two countries, and discussed confronting illegal emigration. The Cuban delegation reiterated its serious concern regarding the ongoing politicized use of the migratory issue with respect to Cuba, by the United States government, the enforcement of the Cuban Adjustment Act, and, in particular, the implementation of the so-called “wet foot-dry foot” policy, which affords Cuban preferential treatment – unique in the world – admitting them immediately and automatically, regardless of the ways and means used to reach U.S. territory, even if they arrived in an irregular manner.

Cuba’s representatives insisted that this policy encourages illegal, unsafe and disorderly emigration, as well as trafficking in emigrants and irregular entrances into the U.S. from other countries by Cuban citizens who have legally left Cuba and likewise entered a first destination country, from which they continued in an irregular manner toward U.S. territory, becoming victims of networks trafficking in persons and organized crime, as has been recently evidenced by the situation created in Costa Rica and other countries in the region.

The Cuban delegation insisted that this policy violates the letter and the spirit of the Migration Accords in force, in which the U.S. government made a commitment to discontinue the practice of admitting all Cuban migrants arriving to their territory through irregular means, to ensure legal, safe and orderly migration between the two countries.

On the other hand, the United States delegation indicated that its government does not intend to introduce changes in current migration policy for Cuban citizens.

The Cuban delegation reaffirmed its rejection of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, established by the George W. Bush administration in 2006, with the purpose of encouraging Cuban doctors and other health personnel to abandon their missions in other countries and migrate to the United States. The Cuban delegation emphasized that this is a reprehensible practice meant to damage Cuba’s cooperation programs, and deprive Cuba and many other countries of vital human resources.

The Cuban delegation emphasized that the ‘wet foot-dry foot’ policy, as well as the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, are inconsistent with the present bilateral context, hamper the normalization of migratory relations between Cuba and the United States, and create problems for other countries of the region.

During the round of talks, which was held in a respectful and professional atmosphere, other aspects related to migratory relations were discussed, including compliance with agreements currently in effect; the issuance of migrant and temporary visas; as well as actions taken on both sides to address illegal migration, human trafficking and document fraud.

The two delegations agreed that positive outcomes had been achieved during the bilateral technical meeting on migratory fraud held in March, 2015, in Havana, and agreed to hold such a meeting again next year in Washington.

The Cuban delegation expressed its satisfaction with an April video-conference regarding a new communications procedure between Cuba’s Border Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard and confirmed the holding of another technical meeting between the two services in Havana, in December of 2015.

The Cuban delegation expressed its willingness to continue these talks and invited a U.S. delegation to travel to Havana during the first part of 2016 to hold another round.

Washington, November 30, 2015

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