Cuba, US to hold second round of migration talks in Havana

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Cuba and the United States will hold another round of migration talks on Tuesday in Havana, officials said on Monday, as the two countries grapple with a crisis that has seen record-breaking numbers of Cubans enter the United States.

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Migration talks between the two countries resumed in April, the first such conversations in four years after a long hiatus under former President Donald Trump. The administration of President Joe Biden has since announced it will restart “full immigrant visa processing” in Havana on January 4.

Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio told Reuters in an interview in Havana that those steps would discourage illegal migration from Cuba but “were not enough.”

He said the next round of talks on Tuesday would, in part, address underlying issues, including US immigration policies that he said favor Cubans migrants over those of other nationalities.

“The potential Cuban migrant goes with the idea that if he manages to reach the border of the US or enter US territory, he will eventually be admitted,” De Cossio said. “That is a powerful stimulus.”

A record 220,000 Cubans were caught at the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2022, which ended on September 30, shattering previous records. The vast majority were allowed into the United States to pursue immigration cases.

De Cossio also cited the US Cold War-era trade embargo as a key factor behind the recent mass exodus. The sanctions, he said, contribute to a grinding economic crisis on the island that has led to daily blackouts and hours-long lines for food, fuel and medicine.

A US State Department spokesperson confirmed Tuesday’s talks in Havana “to discuss implementation of the US-Cuba Migration Accords.”

“These talks are routine and represent a continuation of our nearly 30-year engagement with Cuba on migration matters as neighboring states and are limited to the topic of migration,” the spokesperson added.

De Cossio said Cuba had recently begun restaffing its own embassy in Washington, D.C., to match the United States´ decision to ramp up staffing and resume visa processing in Havana.

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