Cuba: Families Hurt Due to US Visa Suspension

Cuba

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry Chief for U.S. Affairs, Josefina Vidal. | Photo: Reuters

“Politics always ends up affecting the poorest, the people,” said Jessica Aguila, a Cuban worker planning to visit her family in the United States.

Dec 12 (teleSur) Cuban officials have told their U.S. counterparts that Washington’s decision to reduce its embassy staff in Havana by more than half and suspend visa processing is “seriously hampering” ties between the two countries, as well as causing distress for family members. Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry Chief for U.S. Affairs, and John Creamer, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, headed the talks, according to PressTV.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry released a public statement after the meeting which read, in part, that “the Cuban delegation expressed deep concern over the negative impact that the unilateral, unfounded and politically motivated decisions adopted by the US government… have on migration relations between both countries.”

It noted that the decrease in US embassy staff in Cuba, as well as Cuban embassy staff in the United States, had “seriously affected the functioning of the diplomatic mission, particularly the Consulate and the services it offers to Cubans residing in the United States.” Also, visa suspension of official delegations to Cuba had resulted in a “counterproductive effect” on bilateral issues such as migration.

“Politics always ends up affecting the poorest, the people, and not the government,” said Jessica Aguila, an office employee who had been planning to visit her family in the United States during the Christmas holidays, according to Reuters. She added that “in a few months, all the advances between the two countries have been turned to dust.”

Meanwhile, Laura Hernandez, a Cuban student who hoped to relocate with her father in the United States said that the decision to suspend visa processing is “unnecessary and inhuman. With so many families to reunify…why?”

The U.S. government made the unilateral decision to halt visa applications after several of their diplomats fell ill to alleged sonic attacks. However, Coronel Ramiro Ramirez, head of the Cuban security detail responsible for the protection of diplomats on the Caribbean island, explained that such an acoustic weapon, even if employed by a third party as U.S. officials have suggested, would have affected the health of other people in the general area and could not have singled out U.S. diplomats as part of a deliberate attack. Ramirez added that the sound would have undoubtedly attracted public attention.

Mark Hallett, head of the human motor control section of the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, suggested that the ailments experienced by some U.S. diplomats were related to “mass hysteria” prompted by the media, not sonic attacks. However, doctors investigating the incident concluded that U.S. officials underwent a “collective psychogenic disorder” and have linked brain abnormalities to their symptoms related to hearing, vision, balance, and memory.

Speaking at the Fourth Meeting of Cuban Residents in the United States in October, Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, said “While the U.S. government shuts down, Cuba opens up,” in response to the U.S. administration’s decision to reduce embassy personnel in Havana and Washington, which directly affected visa processing.

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