Statement by Ernesto Soberón Guzmán, Director General of Consular Affairs and Cuban Residents Abroad
In recent weeks, a group of our citizens have encountered difficulties in traveling to the countries of our immediate region with the new obligation to obtain visas to visit or transit in some of them. It is a complex situation, which the Cuban government is tackling with the utmost rigor and which has several causes.
Since 2017, the United States government has unilaterally and unjustifiably breached the obligation signed in 1994 to ensure the legal migration to this country of a minimum of 20,000 Cubans each year. Since he closed the processing of immigration procedures at his embassy in Cuba since October 2017, the few thousand that the American authorities have admitted each year since then, are forced to travel to Guyana to carry out such procedures, without granting guarantees and with the expense and burden that this entails for each potential migrant.
As we know, the government of the United States has maintained in force and considerably reinforced during these years the economic blockade aimed at breaking our economy, depressing the standard of living of Cubans, causing shortages and harming the level of consumption and services on which the population depends. It is a policy that has been tightened during the most critical moments of the confrontation with COVID19; also coinciding with the negative impact of the pandemic on the global economy.
In addition to the above, since the 1960s, United States migration policy toward Cuba has had the legal backing of the Cuban Adjustment Act, which offers every Cuban who arrives in that country the opportunity almost automatic, after one year of arrival, change their immigration status and become a permanent resident.
This is an exclusive privilege for Cubans, which naturally fuels the belief among many that as a Cuban citizen they have the right to immigrate to the United States and be accepted in this country, regardless of be the route and the form they take. .
This legislation is accompanied by a highly prejudiced and demagogic policy, which has assumed for decades that every Cuban who enters American territory does so because he is politically persecuted or has a “credible fear” of returning to his home country ; while statistics clearly show that every year the number of Cuban travelers visiting Cuba from US territory is steadily increasing.
These are all factors that stimulate migration, and in particular irregular migration, with final destination in the territory of the United States, when legal channels are closed, as has happened since 2017, as in previous decades or in the past.
These realities explain, to a large extent, the significant legal and irregular migratory flow of Cubans through the countries of the region, in particular Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, which entails a burden for these nations and their governments, and for its relationship with the United States, who are already bearing the brunt of the strong migratory potential of their respective populations.
They also explain the efforts and pressures of the United States government to get transit countries to take action against Cuban emigrants, to require visas when they did not in the past, including visas for transit, which are even supposed to be required for Cubans with permanent residence in other countries.
Moreover, secretly, Washington is working to obstruct the processing of new visas at accredited embassies in Havana, with the aim of increasing the discomfort of the Cubans affected. These are efforts that contrast with the traditional and veiled encouragement to the emigrant to use these territories to illegally reach the land and southern border of the United States, where entry into this country is facilitated.
It is cynical to force Cubans to travel to Guyana to process their migrant visas and, at the same time, to ensure that it is imposed as a condition of obtaining a visa for transit through a third country for those intending to reach Georgetown; while the activity of the American consulate in Havana remains suspended or very limited.
The scenario facing the Cuban emigrant today is that of the historical and permanent incitement to migration to the United States, the refusal of this country to process in Cuba the 20,000 annual visas to which it has committed in bilateral agreements, the burden of an economic blockade which affects their standard of living and gives them the illusion of a prospect of prosperity in the United States, to which is added the pressure exerted on the governments of the region to require visas from Cubans who aspire to take advantage of the permanent incentive to emigrate to the United States.
It is a reality suffered, moreover, by Cubans whose objective is to make trips and temporary visits to the countries of the region, without any intention of emigrating.
In many cases, the visa applicant is forced to purchase an air ticket as a condition of applying for a transit visa, with no guarantee that the visa will be issued, or the possibility of receiving a refund if the application for transit is refused. Visa. . .
The Cuban government has addressed these issues directly and through diplomatic channels with the United States government. He expressed that his current behavior is abusive towards Cubans aspiring to emigrate, incompatible with the bilateral agreements signed, harmful to the countries of the region and encourages illegal, irregular and dangerous migration, both by land and by sea. He recalled that the commitment of the current American president to his own constituents was that he would correct the rupture of the migratory agreements, initiated by his predecessor, which still persists, which has repercussions for the emigrant and his families.
The same time, is in communication with the governments of the region, whose sovereign immigration provisions it respects, but which it requests that they be applied without discrimination against Cubans, with announcements duly anticipated, reasonable lead times and the ability to ease the burden on those who have already incurred expenses and commitments on the basis that they could travel visa-free.
It is absolutely unfair to ask the Cuban candidate to emigrate the changes of conduct of the government of the United States and to force him to incur additional expenses and, in the worst case, to lose considerable sums already committed. It is also abusive to get him to incur travel expenses and procedures without a travel guarantee, especially when it comes to a discriminatory requirement against Cubans.
The most obvious thing about the scenario described above is that it is not far removed from the traditional destabilization policy of the United States against Cuba and the will to use the population as hostage of an ambition hegemonic and hostile against Cuba, and against our government. Nor does he move away from the historic contempt for the countries of our region, which he intends to use for his pressure against Cuba and to face, in an election year, the migratory challenge present at its southern border, and to which he submits the immigrants , as usual practice, to discriminatory, racist, degrading and abusive treatment.
(Excerpt from Cubaminrex)
Soberón: The majority of Cubans residing abroad favor a constructive relationship with Cuba