Cuban and U.S. Authorities Talk in Havana About the Smuggling of Migrants

Boat in which four undocumented Cubans were traveling, intercepted by the Coast Guard on March 12, approximately five miles east of Isla Morada, Florida. (Coast Guard)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 10 September 2022 — Authorities of the Cuban Border Guard Troops and the United States Coast Guard Service met in Havana on Thursday and Friday to talk about migration.

The meeting discussed ways to increase cooperation between the two services to deal with the smuggling of migrants, according to an article published this Friday by the Ministry of the Interior.

Illegal departures, illicit drug trafficking and maritime search and rescue operations were also discussed.

“The delegations of both countries highlighted the usefulness of these meetings and agreed on the importance of advancing cooperation in this area,” the article adds.

It also points out that the meeting took place in a “respectful and professional” atmosphere.

The article, published by the official newspaper Granma, says that according to reports, “both parties agreed to continue these technical meetings in the future.”

These conversations have taken place at a time when the exodus of Cubans has skyrocketed, both those who take migratory routes through Central American countries and those who launch themselves into the sea in precarious boats — all with the aim of reaching the United States.

The U.S. Coast Guard has arrested about 4,500 Cubans off the coast of Florida since October 1, 2021, when the current fiscal year began, according to data from the Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP).

The CBP has recorded the arrival of 177,848 Cuban migrants in the United States.

The figure exceeds the largest flow of Cubans so far, reported in 1980, when 125,000 people left through the port of Mariel in just seven months.

Last April, delegations from Cuba and the United States resumed their bilateral dialogue on migration issues in Washington, the first high-level meeting since the arrival of President Joe Biden at the White House in January 2021.

These meetings had been suspended in 2018 during the Presidency of Donald Trump (2017-2021), who reversed the historic process of rapprochement with the Island launched by his predecessor, Barack Obama (2009-2017).

The Cuban government called it a “positive sign” that the United States held a meeting on immigration issues with a delegation from its country, and, for its part, the Biden Administration considered that these immigration talks between the two parties were “productive.”

The United States has recently implemented several measures, including the increase in the consular services of its embassy in Havana and the reestablishment of a family reunification program that had been suspended since 2017.

However, the Cuban government blames Washington for the irregular flow of Cuban citizens and the illegal departures by sea and other routes, and also for the breach of the bilateral agreement that stipulates the delivery of 20,000 visas per year for Cubans.

In addition, it attributes the increase in migration to the still-in-force Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which allows Cubans to apply for permanent residence in the United States after one year and one day of being in the country.

Cuba is going through a serious economic crisis due to the combination of the pandemic, the tightening of US sanctions and internal errors in macroeconomic management.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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