Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Nine Latin nations band together to plead with U.S. over Cuba

Nine Latin nations band together to plead with U.S. over Cuba

Eight Latin American governments on Monday joined Costa Rica in calling
on the United States to end its special treatment for Cuban migrants.

The Ecuadorean foreign minister delivered a letter to Secretary of State
John Kerry signed by the foreign ministers of the eight countries and
Costa Rica in expressing their "deep concern" that U.S. policy toward
Cuban migrants is creating a humanitarian crisis and encouraging "a
disorderly, irregular and unsafe flow of Cubans."

"Cuban citizens risk their lives, on a daily basis, seeking to reach the
United States," the letter says, according to excerpts forwarded by
Ecuador's embassy in the United States. "These people, often facing
situations of extreme vulnerability, fall victim to mafias dedicated to
people trafficking, sexual exploitation and collective assaults. This
situation has generated a migratory crisis that is affecting our countries."

The letter was signed by the foreign ministers of Colombia, Costa Rica,
Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru.

State Department officials did not immediately respond to a request for

The countries have been caught up in the drama of record-breaking Cuban
migration. More than 46,500 Cubans were admitted to the United States
without visas during the first 10 months of the 2016 fiscal year,
according to the Pew Research Center. That figure compares with more
than 43,000 in 2015 and just over 24,000 in 2014.

Several of the countries found themselves caring for thousands of
stranded Cubans who were stuck at their borders or in the interior after
running out of money to continue the journey.

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel González told McClatchy in an
interview last week that the issue has cost his country millions of
dollars it doesn't have and has raised complaints from Costa Ricans
about spending resources on stranded foreigners when they were needed by
the nation's own citizens.

"The difficulties between the U.S. and Cuba has a direct consequence on
other countries in our region that serve as transit," González said.
"And we are, in a way, paying the consequences of that bilateral

The nine signatories say the "main cause of the current situation" is
the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows Cubans who reach American soil to
remain in the United States, even if they arrived without legal
documentation. The signatories say revising the act would be the first
step toward addressing the worsening crisis.

They have called for Kerry to attend a "high-level meeting" to review
the issue.

"It is time for the United States to change its outdated policy for
Cuban migrants, which is undermining regular and safe migration in our
continent," said Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Guillaume Long.

The Obama administration has been encouraging the countries to enforce
their own immigration requirements and send undocumented Cubans back to
Cuba. But Cuban activists worry that that policy will only encourage
Cubans to instead flee the island on dangerous ocean voyages to reach

The number of Cubans making the sea trip has nearly doubled in the past
two years, Coast Guard statistics show.

Franco Ordoñez: 202-383-6155, @francoordonez

Source: 9 Latin nations ask U.S. to end Cuban Adjustment Act | In Cuba
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