Cuba approves U.S. air marshals on commercial flights
NORA GÁMEZ TORRES
Cuba will allow U.S. air marshals on regularly scheduled commercial
flights between the two countries, island authorities announced Friday.
Josefina Vidal, director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry's department for
the United States, posted on her Twitter account that an "arrangement on
the deployment of Air Marshalls on board airlines was amended to make it
applicable to scheduled flights."
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirmed the
agreement in a statement to el Nuevo Herald Friday.
"With regard to Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) coverage on flights
to/from Cuba, TSA has an arrangement in place for charter and scheduled
commercial flights," the statement said. "As a general matter, to
protect the operations and efficacy of our Federal Air Marshal program,
TSA does not provide specific information about when or which flights
are covered by our air marshals, as that could potentially compromise
The twin announcements eliminate a confrontation between the Obama
Administration and members of Congress over the security of flights to
and from Cuba.
The TSA admitted in mid-September that no federal air marshals were
aboard the regularly scheduled commercial flights to Cuba that started
in late August. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fl., and other Congress members
quickly accused the Obama administration of lying because TSA officials
had declared earlier that a bilateral agreement for the air marshals
would be in place by the time the flights started.
As the controversy continued, the House Committee on Homeland Security
approved a measure to suspend the regular flights until the TSA
certified that Cuban airports met all security requirements. The measure
was submitted by Rep. John Katko, R-NY, chairman of the subcommittee on
Cuba's Foreign Ministry also announced that representatives of the two
countries had met in Washington Wednesday to discuss "the security of
the flow of people and goods between the two countries, and mutual
concerns about cybersecurity."
Officials from the Cuban Ministries of the Interior and Transportation
as well as the Customs Department took part in the meeting, along with
U.S. officials from the Departments of State, Justice and Homeland Security,
Representatives of both government also gathered in Washington Friday
for the fourth round of meetings of the Bilateral Commission, to review
progress on issues of "shared priority" such as cooperation on
commercial flights, public health and the fight against drug trafficking.
Source: Cuba approves U.S. air marshals on commercial flights | In Cuba
Today - http://www.incubatoday.com/news/article105157771.html