NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 20, 2007

Don't blame the United States for slowing down the processing of U.S. visas for Cubans. Cuba could easily speed things up if it stops blocking the U.S. Interests Section in Havana from getting the resources it needs, says the Miami Herald.

Cuba also complains that the United States risks violating the 1994 U.S.-Cuba migration accords which oblige the United States to grant Cubans at least 20,000 U.S. visas a year. In reality:

  • The United States acknowledges that it won't meet the 20,000 target, but the problem is that Cuba has blocked the U.S. Interests Section from bringing in personnel and materials for upgrading visa facilities.
  • Cuba also refuses to allow the section to hire local replacements for 47 open positions.

This isn't the first time the Interests Section has fallen behind:

  • In 1999 only 14,000 visas were issued; almost 28,000 visas issued in 2001 made up for the shortfall.
  • Meanwhile, Cuba violates the accords all the time -- it does so by denying exit permits to hundreds of Cubans granted U.S. visas.
  • Moreover, since 1998 Cuba has refused to allow the Interests Section to seek new applicants via a lottery; this means the section wastes time on outdated petitions, blocking necessary personnel is another violation.

But ultimately it is in the best interests of both countries to uphold the accords, says the Herald:

  • For the United States, it is imperative to encourage orderly immigration and discourage dangerous sea crossings that have taken so many lives.
  • Cuba benefits by having an escape valve for large numbers of disaffected Cubans who might otherwise stir social unrest.
  • Those Cubans have been waiting for signs of positive change for a year since Fidel Castro became ill; under the current government, there is little hope that change will come.

Source: Editorial, "For orderly, legal and safe immigration," Miami Herald, July 20, 2007.


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