Cuba-USA Begin Talks on Jan. 21 to Normalize Relations

Roberta Jacobson
Roberta Jacobson, assistant US Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

HAVANA TIMES — The governments of the United States and Cuba will begin in Havana on January 21, a dialogue for the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries, after over half a century of rupture and ideological confrontation, reported dpa.

Roberta Jacobson, assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, will lead the US delegation to participate in the talks on migration issues, to be held on January 21-22 in Havana, announced US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki at a press conference.

The trip will represent the highest level mission of a US diplomat to visit the island in half a century.

The occasion is a new round of talks on migration policy between the US and Cuba, one of the few exchanges maintained until now between Washington and Havana.

The meeting was already scheduled before the historic announcement made on December 17 by presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro, after 18 months of secret negotiations. But now, after the thaw between Washington and Havana, the meeting acquires a much greater dimension.

Jacobson will use the meeting to “launch a discussion with the Cuban government for the normalization of diplomatic relations,” said Psaki.

The migration agreements between the US and Cuba, signed in 1995, were aimed at combating illegal migration and facilitate a regular migratory flow of Cubans to the United States. The two governments conduct regularly scheduled meetings every six months. The latest round took place in July 2014 in Cuba.

Washington and Havana signed these migration accords in the wake of the “rafter crisis” of 1994. Back then, tens of thousands of Cubans reached US shores or were picked up by the US Coast Guard in a mass exodus of several weeks.

Since then, Washington agree to grant each year 20,000 visas to Cubans to facilitate an orderly exit from the island, while Havana agreed to accept without retaliation those who are returned by the US authorities.

On the other hand, the State Department spokesman said the US government has decided, for now, to keep the names secret of the 53 political prisoners on the list drawn up by the Obama administration list and that the government of Raul Castro pledged to release.

“We know who’s on the list. The Cubans know who is on the list,” noted Psaki, who said they have decided that “the best way to secure the release of these individuals is not to name them publicly.”

The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) today announced that Cuban authorities released on Wednesday at least five political prisoners.

The Cuban government, meanwhile, has not reported any release of prisoners under the rapprochement with the United States, after the releases of US citizen Alan Gross and a Cuban spy for the US government announced on December 17.

Obama and Castro announced in December that the two countries would resume diplomatic relations that were broken off by the USA in 1961. As part of this process, Washington and Havana must transform their Interests Sections into embassies and appoint an ambassador.

With nearly two million people of Cuban descent settled in the US, mainly in the state of Florida, it is the country where the largest Cuban exile community resides.

7 thoughts on “Cuba-USA Begin Talks on Jan. 21 to Normalize Relations

  • I have one big question ::: ” Who ia going to build and own the mega theme park in Varadero ? ” This past year Orlando had visits from over 59 million people due mainly to theme parks.
    I leave this afternoon fo my 87 research trip to Cuba and I should be in the main bar at the Melia Varadero Resort at 3 P.M. on Sunday.

  • Look, it’s no secret – the Cuban Government, the Vatican, and some influential business elements in the USA (who are not averse to social improvements made in Cuba) are interested in a nice solution for “everybody”. Thus just relax and do not rush like fools into choreography.

  • When they get down to discussing the normalization of relations, one of the items near the top of the list will be the criminal scams which exploit the CAA (wet foot/dry foot policy). This is a problem which cuts both ways, and will be in the interest of both the US and Cuba to resolve it, yet there are political issues which will make it difficult to come to an agreement.

    A report from the Sun Sentinel explains the problem:

  • If I interpret this correctly , it means that the embargo will remain in place to assure large numbers of an impoverished population willing and able under the ‘WF-DF” , to take to the sea and both risk their lives and embarrass the Cuban government as is the purpose of the embargo and the ‘WF-DF” clause.
    That 100 year old U.S. foreign policy is sacrosanct to those who own and run the United States and unless Cuba retains its present totalitarian economy ( state capitalism) and its totalitarian government ( Leninist) it will have no chance of relations normalizing between Cuba and the imperialists.
    Any move towards the democracy that both socialism and its advanced stage; communism require would cause the U.S. G. to find a pretext to continue the 54 year old war on the revolution.

  • The establishment of full embassies is a positive development, even if nothing more comes of this agreement between Obama & Raul.

    Ambassadors come with added responsibilities and obligations of respect form the host countries. A US Ambassador to Cuba will be able to speak out and act in support of democracy and human rights in Cuba. Let us hope the US government supports that policy.

  • The visas are for legal immigration. Non immigration visa travel retains wet foot – dry foot fast track to permanent residency. Cuban’s are unlikely to lose this special status until helms-burton embargo repealed. That is unlikely for years to come.

  • The U.S. agreed to take in only 20,000 Cubans per year which will ensure that the “wet foot- dry foot ” clause of the CAA will really start to cause massive “rafting” and through-Mexico Cuban emigration of Cubans.
    Am I correct in thinking that 50,000 per year is more the historic norm ?

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