Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cuba-US Migration Talks Start Back Up

For the first time in 5 years, Cuban and US diplomats sat down to discuss the lapsed migration accords. Things seems to have gone pretty well. Both sides aired their grievances and released positive statements. The Cubans invited the Americans to come to Havana in December for another round - an interesting move. I wonder when the last time a high State Dept official landed in Havana?

I challenge anyone to disagree with the Cuban statement that the (supposed US goal of) "legal, safe and orderly migration from Cuba would not be achieved under the US 'wet foot/dry foot' policies." This is something that could and should be changed pronto by Obama. The Cuban Adjustment Act is the other half of the special Cuba migration policies that need to die - from Congress I think. All Cuba wants is to be treated like any other country. Luring people with automatic US residency (and "refugee" assistance) causes a lot of people to see 90 miles as an easy boat ride.

Cuba is also asking to resume cooperate on illegal human smuggling. This should be a no-brainer, as it has become an much larger issue since it was originally part of the 1995 Clinton migration accords. Mexican gangs like the Zetas appear to have taken over the enterprise.

The US' demands are not quite as straight forward, or on topic. We want our Diplomats and Embassy staff (often spies) to be able to have the free roam of the island again. Of course, the last time this was allowed US diplomats pushed the envelope of domestic interference with their close work with the dissidents. The US claims this is related to migration because Embassy staff needs to check on those returned to Cuba to make sure they are not harassed or discriminated against. Nevermind that the State Dept. admits this doesn't happen in Havana (where they do check up supposedly).

The US is also essentially asking for a new place to jeep Cuban returnees (with a deepwater port). They are asking for a Cuban refugee camp essentially - on Cuban soil, but administered by the US presumably. I don't understand how Gitmo Bay is too shallow for Coast Guard ships? What? Aren't these usually small vessels? And don't much larger US naval ships use the Bay at Gitmo without a problem? Someone will have to explain this one to me.


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