Cubans Will Not Be Granted Asylum at the US Embassy in Havana

By CafeFuerte

The United States Embassy in Havana.
The United States Embassy in Havana.  Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Only two days after re-opening its embassy in Havana, the United States made it very clear that Cubans will not be granted asylum or offered any kind of legal protection in their diplomatic headquarters.

The announcement by the US State Department came in response to rumors that circulated and reached different media in South Florida, posing the question as to whether Cubans residing on the island would now be able to request political asylum at the US embassy in Havana.

The catalyst behind these speculations was a declaration made by Cuban-American Republican congressman for Florida, Mario Diaz-Balart, who, last Monday, suggested problems could arise if Cubans decided to seek protection from the embassy.


The State Department statement was made public on Wednesday.

“In response to false rumors we’ve seen reported on, the Department of State wishes to make a clarification on the following topics, as to the question of whether an embassy (in this case the US Embassy in Havana) constitutes US territory and allows Cubans to request asylum by virtue of the dry feet/ wet feet policy:

  • Contrary to popular belief, the US Embassy is not US territory.
  • Foreigners cannot be granted asylum within the space of US diplomatic and consular headquarters abroad.
  • Under US law, individuals must be physically present in the United States to request asylum.”

Immigration lawyers concurred that the speculations divulged by some media in Miami following Diaz-Balart’s declarations are erroneous.

An Established Practice

“For years, thousands of Cubans have made their petitions for political asylum from Havana, but what US laws grant them is protection as refugees or humanitarian visas. Asylum is a condition granted only when present in US territory,” lawyer Willy Allen explained.

Allen pointed out that the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA), in effect since 1966, only protects those who enter US territory using a visa or through a parole program.

“US embassies around the world process refugee requests and humanitarian visas, as in the case of the special program aimed at Cuban medical doctors who abandon their missions (established in 2006), but they do not grant political asylum, nor are they havens for such asylum seekers,” the lawyer clarified. “Any person who tries to remain within the diplomatic headquarters by force will never obtain the benefit of traveling to the United States.”

On the Right to Asylum

In addition, the United States is not a signatory to the right to asylum, as established by the Caracas Pan-American Convention of 1854, ratified by the 7th International American Conference held in Montevideo in 1954.

The signatories to this agreement, part of Latin America’s humanitarian tradition, are Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic and Uruguay.

A person in search of diplomatic or territorial asylum could approach the embassies of these countries, provided they are not a fugitive from justice for common crimes.

The United States and Cuba officially reopened their embassies on the dawn of July 20th. The Cuban flag was raised at the diplomatic headquarters in Washington during a ceremony with 500 guests and a high representative of the State Department. A similar ceremony is planned in Havana for August 14, to be attended by Secretary of State John Kerry.

12 thoughts on “Cubans Will Not Be Granted Asylum at the US Embassy in Havana

  • Nothing about the Cuban systems is communist except the name of the party.
    Cuba’s economic system is state capitalist and not communist which requires rule from the bottom up .
    Just because the Soviets , Chinese , Vietnamese and Cubans have solitary ruling parties which CALL themselves communists has no meaning at all.
    The Pope could say he’s Jewish but if he prays to Jesus , takes communion and participates in all the other rituals that are Roman Catholic, you would not call him Jewish, would you ?
    I agree that dictatorships are evil and those evil dictatorships include the Cuban electoral and economic systems , the U.S. economic and electoral systems , oligarchy, capitalism of any sort, organized religions and the more primitive and male-dominated of the nuclear family structures.
    My guess is that you adhere to more than two of these dictatorships in day-to-day practice but can’t bring yourself to recognize that they are totalitarian .

  • I’m 71 years old also .
    I live in the heart of the beast.
    Assemble to do what?
    It sure wasn’t to protest Batista’s dictatorial rule was it ?
    How do you feel about U.S. imperialism and the embargo ?
    Would you really want Batista back ?

  • Rubio’s parents returned to Cuba briefly in the early 1960’s to help ailing parents and because they had heard things were “getting better”. After a few months they realized the truth about Castro and returned to Florida.

  • Rafael Díaz-Balart served as Majority Leader of the Cuban House of Representatives and Under-Secretary of Interior during the presidency of Fulgencio Batista. Not a “key Minister, but a prominent politician from a prominent family. His sister Mirta was Fidel’s first wife.

    If you have been paying attention, you will have noticed Moses (and myself) referring to Fulgencio Batista as a tyrant, a criminal a gangster and a dictator many times in the comments of HT.

    Funny you should advocate for the right to hear tow sides of every story. For the past 56 years, the Castro regime, which you defend, has forbidden any story but their one official discourse.

  • Although Marco Rubio’s official bio used to say that his parents fled Cuba after the triumph of the Revolution, it was discovered that they actually left Cuba six months before Castro landed on the Granma. His official bio is now corrected.

    Mario Diaz-Balart is Fidel Castro’s nephew. He is obviously from the dissident side of the Castro family.

  • I’m 71 years old I lived the Batista’s and Castro’s dictatorship and I can tell you that Castro is the worst tyranny, at least under Batista’s tyranny the people had freedom of assembly.

  • Dictatorships are evil, be they of the extreme left or right. In Cuba there is currently a communist dictatorship under the Castro family regime. In consequence, Moses Patterson’s description of that regime is correct.
    Castro adherents always drag in the diversionary dead cats – which doesn’t change the reality!

  • Tyrannys all share similarities, but our discussion deals with recent history, within the last 50 years at least .

  • Moses, was Mario Diaz-Balart’s father a key Minister in the Batista tyranny? Did Rubio’s father escape the Castro tyranny or the Batista tyranny? Or is the word “tyranny” reserved just for Castro? Just asking. But in a democracy both sides of two-sided stories should be permissible, even if the subject is Cuba, don’t you think?.

  • One can imagine two line-ups, one stretching along the Malecon, through the tunnel and out to Alamar and the other westward along the Malecon, through the small tunnel and along the centre of 5th Avenue to Siboney.

  • Understandable. Imagine the deluge of Cubans who, in hopes of escaping Castro tyranny, would descend upon the embassy if the granting of asylum in the embassy were permitted.

  • Not a 50-50 situation then?

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