Cuba and US Come Closer Together despite Differences

Washington, Dec 2.- Cuba and the United States have taken steps over the past two days to come closer together in their bilateral relations, despite marked differences in matters like migration.

Delegations from the two countries met in this capital to review the Migration Agreements signed in the mid 1990s to favor an organized, safe and legal flow of persons, and discussed cooperation to fight drug trafficking, in an atmosphere of professionalism and respect.

On Monday, the two parties held a new round of biannual talks on migration, which had been postponed due to the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and the reopening of embassies in July, after the round held in Havana in January.

The meeting concluded with the agreement to hold the technical meeting on migration fraud in this capital next year, based on the positive results of a similar event held in Havana in March.

In addition, the two parties confirmed the holding of a forum between Cuba’s Coast Guard Troops and the US Coast Guard Service this month in Havana.

The talks ratified, however, the differences between the two countries, whose presidents, Raul Castro and Barack Obama, announced the decision to advance towards the normalization of relations on December 17, 2015.

According to a press release from the Cuban Foreign Ministry, its delegation, headed by the director general of the US Department, Josefina Vidal, insisted that Washington’s politicization of the migration issue is an incentive for human trafficking.

In that regard, she expressed deep concern about the force of the Cuban Adjustment Act and particularly the application of the so-called “dry feet-wet feet” policy, which grants Cubans a differentiated and unique treatment by admitting them immediately and automatically, regardless of the ways and means they use, even if they arrive on US territory in an irregular way.

She also ratified her rejection of the Parole Program for Cuban Medical Professionals, established in 2006 by the George W. Bush administration to encourage Cuban medical workers abroad to abandon their missions in third countries and migrate to the United States.

It is a reprehensible practice aimed at damaging the cooperation programs and depriving Cuba and many nations in need of vital human resources, Vidal charged.

For its part, the host delegation, headed by the joint undersecretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Edward Alex Lee, ruled out changes in Washington’s migration policy on Cuba, despite the new bilateral scenario.

Based on a proposal from Cuba, the two parties might meet again in the first semester of 2016 in Havana.

On Monday, the two governments analyzed the fight against drug trafficking, a scourge that has raised great concern globally and regionally.

The situation is quite different for Cuba and the United States, the former neither produces nor consumes high levels of drugs, while the latter is the world’s largest market for drugs and large amounts of transgenic marihuana and amphetamines are produced on US territory.

At the meeting, the two delegations agreed on the importance of collaborating in fighting that phenomenon and signing legal instruments to boost that combat.

Cuba assured at the end of the talks that the meeting ratified the need to establish formal exchanges to fight narcotics in order to neutralize drug traffickers in a more effective way.

Also present at the meeting were officials from the Cuban Foreign, Interior and Justice ministries, the General Customs Office of the Republic and the Cuban Embassy, while the hosts were represented by officials from the Department of State, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Coast Guard Service.

The two delegations agreed to continue holding these technical forums and Cuba proposed to hold the next meeting in the summer of 2016 in Havana.

Migration and the fight against drug trafficking are among the matters of common interest on which Cuba and the United States are holding talks.

They are also discussing other issues like civil aviation, post services and environmental protection under the guidance of the Bilateral Commission set up a few months ago.(Prensa Latina)

Radio Cadena Agramonte, December 2, 2015

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