The United States Will Increase Its Diplomatic Staff in Guyana to Speed Up Visas for Cubans

“We are dedicated to reuniting the Cuban family and we will see the results in the coming months,” insisted an official. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 17 December 2021 — The diplomatic staff at the United States embassy in Guyana will be increased next year in order to eliminate backlogs in the granting of visas to Cubans, primarily applicants who are applying for family reunification.

The announcement was made by representatives of the State Department this Thursday at a press conference with the South Florida media.

“I am sure that in 2022 we will reduce the delays, as long as there are no logistical complications or due to the pandemic,” said Víctor García Rivera, director of Visas of the diplomatic legation in the city of Georgetown. He said the department’s strategy will be to expand “the number of civil servants and increase the number of appointments.”

According to Radio Television Marti, the State Department estimates that in 2021 more than 78,000 Cubans waited for the consular interview in Guyana. In addition to the delays in the procedures due to the pandemic, at the beginning of the year the Cuban government suspended direct flights to the South American country and many applicants had to reschedule their appointments.

“We are dedicated to reuniting the Cuban family and we are going to see the results in the coming months,” Garcia Rivera insisted.

Mara Tekach, coordinator of the State Department’s Office of Cuban Affairs, suggested that the petitioners and applicants arrange their flights to Guyana directly with the airlines so as not to be victims of scams. “There are certain agencies that sell tickets at very high prices given the low number of flights between Havana and Georgetown,” she said.

“We are working to see if we can restore services and increase staff at the embassy in Havana in order to provide consular services while maintaining the safety of our diplomats,” Tekach said, speaking to journalists about the possible reopening of the consular headquarters in Cuba, which is still without a definite date. “It was what the president announced and we are working on that.”

The United States substantially reduced the staff of its embassy in Cuba in 2017 after some thirty American diplomats suffered mysterious “health incidents” known as Havana syndrome, the reasons for which have not yet been clarified.

Former President Donald Trump (2017-2021) then accused the Cuban government of being responsible for what the US authorities described as “acoustic” or “sonic” attacks, which served as a pretext for the then president to break the diplomatic thaw with the Island.

Since then, nationals of the Island who wish to emigrate or travel to the United States must apply for their visas mainly in Guyana — which allows Cubans to travel to the country without a visa — or in any other country that they can legally travel to for the interview at an American consular headquarters.


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