Immigration reform on agenda for Cuba: minister
Cuba is making headway to normalize ties with its diaspora living in the
United States, the country's deputy foreign minister said Saturday, with
moves on immigration reform expected in coming months.
"Much has been achieved" towards normalizing relations with US-based
Cubans, Dagoberto Rodriguez said from Havana during a video
teleconference with immigrants in Washington organized by the Cuban
He called for a "respectful exchange of ideas" on "how we can continue
to build... this dialogue."
Rodriguez said the government of President Raul Castro aimed to tackle
migration reform to "eliminate unnecessary prohibitions" on Cubans
wishing to travel abroad.
Last year, some 400,000 people -- 100,000 more than the year before --
traveled to Cuba to visit relatives, work on cultural projects or for
business and academic purposes, according to the senior diplomat.
Cuban migration rights were in the spotlight this week after two actors
featured in an award-winning film about Cuban boat people themselves
went missing in Florida on their way to New York to promote the film.
Since 1966, Cubans have been granted automatic residence if they make it
to the United States from the communist-ruled island, and thousands
attempt the voyage each year, while others simply refuse to return if
they reach the United States on a short visit.
National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon said earlier this month that
Havana planned to remove many of the restrictions that have prevented
its citizens from traveling abroad.
To travel abroad legally, Cubans need a permit that is valid for 30
days. It can be extended 10 times, after which they must return to Cuba
or lose the right to reside in their own country.