In this Jan 16, 2017 photo, Cubans remain outside the National Immigration Institute with the hope of obtaining a safe-conduct that will allow them to reach the border with the United States, in Tapachula, Chiapas state, Mexico. (MOYSES ZUNIGA / AFP)
HAVANA – Cuba on Wednesday urged the US authorities to comply with 1994 migration agreements which stipulate 20,000 immigrant visas should be granted annually to Cuban nationals, pressing Washington to restart consular services in Havana.
According to a press release by the Cuba’s foreign ministry, the two countries held a meeting in Washington to discuss migration issues as part of their limited diplomatic ties, which deteriorated after Donald Trump took over as president of the United States.
After taking office in 2017, Donald Trump reduced the US-Cuba diplomatic engagement to the minimum level
"The Cuban delegation stated that the decision to suspend visa processing services at the US embassy in Havana directly affects migratory relations, family ties, damages institutional exchanges and travel between the two countries," the release said.
According to the release, both sides acknowledged the benefits of the joint declaration in January 2017 ending Washington's "wet foot, dry foot" policy on Cuban migrants, which since its adoption in 1995 has engaged in selective migratory treatment, granting residency to Cuban migrants landing on US soil but deporting those spotted at sea.
"In this round of talks, both countries reviewed the bilateral agreements in order to guarantee a regular, safe and orderly migration, discourage irregular migration, as well as prevent and confront associated illegal actions," it said.
The Cuban delegation said it complies with its obligations regarding the bilateral accords and reiterated the island's will to continue holding talks and deepen cooperation on migration-related issues, the release said.
In 2015, Cuba and the United States established diplomatic relations after decades of enmity. One year afterward, former US President Barack Obama visited the island country.
However, when Trump took office in 2017, he rolled back the rapprochement and reduced the US-Cuba diplomatic engagement to the minimum level.