Travel agencies will handle the paperwork
HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban Interests Section in Washington today announced that it will renew expired passports of Cubans residing in the United States who plan to travel in the coming months to the island, reported dpa news.
The good news from the island’s diplomatic mission comes despite having yet to find a solution to the suspension of consular services because of not having a bank that will handle its accounts.
The Cuban Interests Section issued a statement calling the measure “temporary” that will “create conditions in our Consular Office to renew expired passports or those coming due from those citizens residing in the United States who are booked to travel to Cuba in the period
May 15 to August 31, 2014.”
The procedure must be done through authorized travel agents who have “working relations” with the Consular Office at its headquarters in Washington. Although the measure is considered temporary, until a more permanent solution is found, the statement said the deadline “could be extended if the alternative solution implementation takes more time than expected.”
In February, Cuba announced the immediate and indefinite suspension of consular services in the United States do to the “impossibility” of finding a new bank to carry the accounts of its diplomatic mission after the previous one suspended service.
The delegation reiterated today, as it has done in recent months, that is has not yet managed to find a bank based in the United States to assume the bank accounts of the Cuban diplomatic missions “because of regulations arising from the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba.”
The US government has said repeatedly that it is “actively” working with the Cuban Interests Section to find a new bank, but until now, fruitlessly.
The decision to renew expired passports comes shortly after travel agencies booking tickets to Cuba from the United States received a directive from Havana in late April to prevent Cubans from boarding planes with expired passports under threat of “penalties.”
Cuba issues passports valid for six years, but requires an extension to be paid for every two years. Until late last month, the country’s immigration had accepted the entry of travelers without valid passports on the condition that they renew them in Havana due to the problems at its consulate in Washington.
Cuba requires all persons born on the island to enter with a Cuban passport even if they are now citizens with passports from another country.