Cuban Adjustment Act Survives Day One of Negotiations

By Isaac Risco

The chief Cuban negotiator Josefina Vidal.  Photo: cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES — The governments of the United States and Cuba showed their differences today on migration issues in the opening day of negotiations characterized by both sides as “productive” and “constructive”. The talks come after the historic announcement of diplomatic rapprochement in December, reported dpa.

High-ranking delegations from both countries met today at the Havana Convention Center for the start of a two-day dialogue that seeks to draw up a roadmap for the restoration of diplomatic relations, broken off by the US in 1961.

Today’s talks focused on migration issues, an area in which both countries brought out their differences despite the current political thaw.

“The fact that the talks have been productive with a collaborative spirit proves that even though there are differences and that they remain, the US and Cuba can find opportunities to work on issues of mutual interest,” said negotiator Alex Lee, who headed the US delegation on Wednesday.

US policy for Cubans fleeing the island and who manage to arrive illegally to the United States remains intact, said Lee.

“We explained to the Cuban government that my government is fully committed to maintaining the Cuban Adjustment Act and policies related to migration issues, which are commonly referred to as the “wet foot, dry foot,” provision, he said.

Both standards “continue to guide the US immigration policy toward Cuba,” said Lee, on the guidelines governing the entry of Cuban immigrants to the United States for decades.

The Havana government meanwhile reiterated his criticism of both policies which it says encourage illegal emigration and “brain drain.”

Alex Lee (C) led the US delegation on Wednesday. Foto: Ismael Francisco/ Cubadebate.cu

The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 and the wet foot, dry foot norm of 1995, allows Cubans who reach American soil to obtain permanent residence (green card) after a year and a day, despite having entered the United States irregularly.

Those standards “continue to be the main stimulus of illegal emigration from Cuba and illegal entrance to the US from third countries,” said the chief Cuban negotiator, Josefina Vidal. She also criticized the US government for encouraging Cubans working on missions in other countries to abandon their work, especially doctors.

“It is a reprehensible practice of brain drain that makes many countries lose vital human resources, something that goes against the migratory agreements,” said Vidal. The island has tens of thousands of doctors and other health personnel working in missions in Latin America and Africa.

Both parties, however, indicated they will continue the periodic migration talks first celebrated after signing an agreement on the matter in 1994, regardless of diplomatic negotiations. “It’s an issue we have been discussing for many years,” said Vidal.

Talks to guarantee a safe and legal migration “is consistent with our interests to promote greater freedom and greater respect for human rights in Cuba,” Lee said for his part. The latest round of migration talks was held in mid-2014 in Washington. The current round, scheduled for some time, was taken advantage of this time to initiate diplomatic negotiations.

Roberta Jacobson, assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the State Department, arrived to Havana on Wednesday. She will lead the US delegation on Thursday in the key phase of dialogue in Havana. Jacobson is the highest US official to visit the island in decades.

17 thoughts on “Cuban Adjustment Act Survives Day One of Negotiations

  • First of all, you have made valid criticisms of issues facing the US. I have never claimed that my country is perfect. What I do feel proud about is that the US, for all of our flaws, continues to strive to improve. Every criticism you have levied in your comment was covered first and best by US media. In Cuba, Castro media is mum on problems in Cuba. Second, you don’t know my background nor my politics. Your comments about me personally are conjecture based on a few hundred words. This blog is about Cuba. Try to stay on topic and limit the personal attacks. If you are not talented enough to refute my facts with your facts, name-calling is not a valid alternative. By the way, who cares what YOU take seriously?

  • ” If the Castros announced these reforms to take place immediately: free speech, independent media, freedom of assembly and open elections, the US would not be able to oppose the single-party communist government.”

    Cuba could do all those things and the US would still object.

    You must REALLY have a grudge against the Castros because everything you called Cuba out on could easily be said about the US. But it’s interesting that you criticize this particular form of government but do not criticize the US for the same offenses. You sound like one of those people who got assistance from the gov, made money, and then go on to bitch about paying taxes, and criticize people who need public assistance. I guess you are okay with welfare as long as its corporate welfare. You benefit from other people’s suffering, probably bitch about government regulation meant to protect workers from people like you who would like to pay employees chicken shit for wages and provide no benefits. In other words you are a hypocrite. Let’s look at the accusations you lodge at Cuba from the US side, shall we?

    -Independent Media: Where are your objections to the attacks on net neutrality? Do you really think we have “independent media”? More like state sanctioned corporate media.

    6 Corporations Control 90% Of The Media In America Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control-90-of-the-media-in-america-2012-6

    – Freedom of Speech:

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/first-amendment-free-speech-attack

    Also see,
    “Journalism is Under Attack, and Not Just in Ferguson” https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/journalism-under-attack-and-not-just-ferguson

    -Open Elections. What about our Koch problem? Citizens United? Gerrymandering? Voter Disenfranchisement? Elections are only open to white, rich people.

    -Freedom of Assembly: Talk to people in Ferguson if they have had “freedom of assembly” when police can be heard broadcasting messages across the city advising protesters that fail to follow their orders and dispurse will lead to arrest.

    I’ll take anything you say seriously when you recognize your double standard.

    Bye.

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