The US Resumes Consular Services for Its Citizens in Cuba

The US embassy staff in Havana continues working at minimum levels after the evacuation of its non-essential personnel. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana | 24 August 2018 – The US embassy in Havana announced Friday that it has resumed consular services for American citizens. Renewal of passports, notary services, authentication, consular reports of birth abroad and emergency assistance are available as of today in Havana, without the need to travel to another country, as had been the case.

The diplomatic headquarters published this decision in a statement released on their social networks. Many Cubans took the opportunity to request the restoration of the family parole reunification program, which has been postponed for nearly a year.

Some people also demanded the return of consular services for family reunification currently taking place in Guyana. Residents on the Island who are interested in visiting the United States must obtain their visa in a third country.

In September of last year, the United States reduced by 60% the diplomatic personnel in the Island, after twenty-six of its officials were allegedly attacked with a “sonic weapon” which affected their hearing and caused other related problems. Relations between Washington and Havana deteriorated rapidly after the arrival of Donald Trump as president. The United States accuses the island of knowing who is behind the alleged attacks on its diplomats, while Cuban authorities say it is a pretext to derail the process of reestablishing relations undertaken under the previous administration.

Recently, the US Congress published a report questioning the embassy’s ability to keep abreast of Cuban affairs. “The ability of the United States to follow the situation in Cuba, defend human rights, carry out consular activities and comply with bilateral agreements is being undermined by a drastic reduction in the staff of the embassy in Havana,” reported Reuters, which had access to the document.

The document, issued by the Congressional Research Service, affirms that the decision to reduce the number of diplomats from 50 to a maximum of 18 on the Island due to the mysterious ailments that affected 26 US and 10 Canadian officials since 2016, has resulted in there being more work than those who remain on the island can complete.

According to Reuters, not a single refugee visa has been processed this year because the office responsible for doing so remains closed. Last year there were 117 people who benefited from receiving these visas in Havana.

The Cuban government has expressed its concern that the minimum 20,000 visas for Cuban migrants will not be reached this year, an agreement that both countries signed in 1994 to end the crisis of the rafters.

This Thursday, the United States lowered the level of alert for those who intend to travel to the island. The State Department placed Cuba in category 2, which recommends exercising caution due to the acoustic attacks against employees of the US embassy. At the end of September, the State Department had placed the island in category 3, recommending that the Americans “reconsider” a trip to the the greater of the Antilles.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria


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