Archive for March 12th, 2013

U.S. Migration Policy Unchanged after Cuba’s Update

March 12, 2013

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Officials from the United States Interest Section in Havana (USINT) noted that their country’s migration policy toward Cuba remains unchanged after the update of the island’s migration law on January 14.

USINT General Consul Timothy P. Roche told Prensa Latina that the requirements to grant temporary and permanent visas to Cuban citizens at the U.S. diplomatic mission are the same.

“For us, the elimination of the exit permit is good for Cubans, but nothing has really changed on our side, that is, our regulations, rules, laws have not changed in that regard,” he pointed out.

Regarding the interest of the USINT to reiterate the requirements in force to travel to the United States, he pointed out that those who want to apply for a tourist (temporary) visa must fill out a form on the Internet and be interviewed.

Roche said that the interview is the deciding step to grant a visa or not, and it consists of three or four minutes in which vice consuls “with vast experience and experts in our laws” ask questions on basic issues such as the purposes and duration of the trip.

He admitted that youths are the age group most likely to have their visas denied, because they are a population segment that usually “seeks economic opportunities abroad”, above all in less developed nations in Africa and Latin America.

In the case of permanent visas, the process is different, because the applicant needs to have a relative in the United States, a U.S citizen or a permanent resident to do the procedure before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, he added.

The U.S. official pointed out that there are several reasons to deny a visa, based on the consular officials’ assumption that the person interested in visiting the United States temporarily may be a possible immigrant and that the relatives of those planning to travel permanently may lack economic resources, or due to national security reasons.

He explained that the USINT is working to reduce the waiting time for the interviews – achievements have been made – and that based on the changes in Cuba’s migration law, they plan to grant more temporary visas.

According to Lynn Roche, head of the Press and Culture Office of the USINT, the Section seeks to promote the legal, orderly and safe flow of citizens.

The Cuban government has charged that the Cuban Adjustment Act and Washington’s implementation of the dry feet-wet feet policy stimulate illegal emigration, risking the lives of people and allowing the automatic entry in the United States of individuals who have perpetrated violent acts in Cuba.

Those dispositions also benefit the networks of organized crime that profit from human trafficking.

Asked about the contradiction between the expressed intention to guarantee a safe migration flow and the implementation of the Cuban Adjustment Act and the dry feet-wet feet policy and brain drain, the USINT officials said they had no comments in that regard, “as those are decisions at the government level”.

They did not comment on the convenience or not of resuming the rounds of bilateral migration talks at present, which were suspended unilaterally by the Barack Obama administration in 2011, after he had resumed them when he took office in 2009.

In that regard, Lynn Roche admitted that there are two laws: one enforced by the United States on its border and another one implemented by the USINT to grant or deny visas.

In their interview with Prensa Latina, the U.S. officials also noted the importance of being well informed about the visa requirements and procedures to travel to the United States, based on the proliferation of con people who, mainly from the United States, try to make profit.

On January 14, 2013, an updated migration law came into force in Cuba to make travel procedures more flexible, including the elimination of the exit permit and the invitation letter to travel abroad, in addition to the extension of Cuban citizens’ stay abroad from 11 to 24 months without losing their permanent residence on the island nation.

The new measures allow Cuban citizens under 18 years of age, duly authorized by their parents or legal guardians, to travel abroad, as well as émigrés to stay in Cuba for up to 90 days, in contrast to 30 days before the new law came into force.

It also establishes the temporary visit of those who emigrated illegally after the 1994 migration agreements with the United States after eight years from their departure, and expands the causes for repatriation.

Havana, Mar 11 (Prensa Latina)

Cuba Denounces Double Standards at Human Rights Council

March 12, 2013

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Cuba demanded today that the Human Rights Council end hypocrisy, selectivity, and double standards,which are harmful practices that in the past have damaged the Council’s reputation.

During the 22nd session of that U.N. agency, Cuban Ambassador in Geneva Anayansi Rodriguez warned that many industrialized nations, particularly the United States, have lists of countries they accuse of committing alleged violations, yet they remain silent about brutal cases of repression in others.

Rodriguez said that in some cases, these charges are being used as a pretext to justify interventions, and promote regime change.

If they are so concerned about the cause of human rights, why do they say nothing about the secret prisons for torture, the use of drones to kill civilians, or the concentration camps, such as that established in the territory illegally occupied by the United States in Guantanamo?, the diplomat asked.

Washington also silences the brutal repression of movements such as Occupy Wall Street and the “outraged” in Europe, and on the contrary, seeks to pass mercenaries and agents off as Cuban “dissidents” and “patriots,” paying them substantial salaries to promote policies of aggression and blockade against Cuba, she said.

In another effort to serve the Empire, a small group of Cuban-born mercenaries has been accredited at the Council, presumably to denigrate and slander her country, Rodriguez charged.

The ambassador called for the Council to end the politicization and imperial impositions, and promote dialogue and genuine cooperation among equals.

Geneva, Mar 12 (Prensa Latina)

Cuba will survive the loss of Chávez

March 12, 2013

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by Stephen Wilkinson

Once again the web is abuzz with stories of impending doom for Cuba now that Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez has lost his battle against cancer. However, as I have argued previously, I do not believe that the death of Chávez is as disastrous for Cuba as some suggest.
Two years ago, when the Venezuela leader’s illness was treated for the first time, I was asked by some friends in Cuba if it would be as serious for the island if Venezuelan support disappeared as it was when the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 90s.
“Stephen, you are a person who has spent a lot of time studying Cuba,” I was asked, “What is your opinion? Have we not transferred our dependency on the Soviet Union now to Venezuela? Will we not find ourselves in the same situation that we were in at the start of the 1990s if Chávez falls?”
As I wrote in the Guardian back then (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/05/cuba-hugo-chavez,), when the question is put this way, the answer is emphatically no. Even if Venezuela were to completely disappear tomorrow (which is not going to happen), Cuba would have difficulties but it would survive. Here’s why.
First, the dependency on Venezuela today is simply not as great as the dependency that Cuba had with Soviet Union and the former socialist countries. When they collapsed, Cuba lost 85% of its trade practically overnight. While Venezuela is by far the largest trading partner that Cuba has right now, the proportion of the trade exchange between the two countries has never amounted to a half of Cuba’s total. Given that not all of Venezuela’s relations with Cuba would disappear immediately, the initial shock to the Cuban system would therefore not be as great.
Second, unlike in 1989 when almost all of Cuba’s trade was with the Soviet bloc countries, Cuba has diversified its trading partners enormously since then. China, Vietnam, Canada, Brazil, Spain and even the United States (under a food sales exception to the embargo) are now all very significant partners. These would be able to fill the gaps left by Venezuela. Whereas, in 1989, Cuba had to redirect its entire economic relations to face a completely new reality, it has already made that adjustment today. Recovery from the shock of the absence of its major partner would, therefore, be quicker.
This leads on to a related third point: Cuba has also diversified its economy. In 1989, about 90% of its export earnings came from the sale of sugar to the Soviet bloc. Now, Cuba is no longer dependent on one crop for its income and can count on a variety of industries that will remain largely unaffected by the demise of Venezuela. A look at the breakdown of Cuba’s export earnings shows that nickel, biotech products and tourism make up a huge portion of its income. In 1989, Cuba could not count on any of these, so the country is in a better shape to face adversity than it was then.
The main threat from a collapse of Cuba’s relationship with Venezuela is from a fall in cheap oil imports and a drop in earnings from the export of medical services to Venezuela. Venezuela supplies about half of Cuba’s oil needs at a preferential price, and purchase of the services of Cuban doctors accounts for something like 20% of Cuba’s current annual earnings. Losing these deals would be a significant blow to the country, but it would not be catastrophic – and certainly not as a bad as the loss of the partnership with the Soviet bloc in 1989.
Back then, all of Cuba’s oil came from the Soviet Union at preferential prices and the effect of having to buy oil on the world market was to cut Cuba’s oil imports by 75%. The consequence of that was severe rationing of electricity, sudden power cuts and the almost complete cessation of automobile transport. A crisis on that scale would simply not happen now. For one thing, Cuba would be able to buy more oil than it could in 1989 because its hard currency earnings are higher now; and for another, it now supplies half of its own oil needs and is completely self-sufficient in electricity production. While the price of gasoline would inevitably rise as a consequence of the disappearance of Venezuela, a shortage of electricity would not occur because Cuba now generates all its electricity from oil it produces itself.
None of this is to say that Cuba would not face a problem if the opposition won in Venezuela. It surely would. There would be something like 29,000 medical personnel who would be returned to the island, adding to the numbers of professionals there on the state payroll. There would be an oil shortage and there would be inevitable austerity imposed on a population that has suffered decades of hardship. The Cuba of today is vastly changed from the country it was in 1989. To say that it had a friend and ally in Chávez is undoubtedly true, but to say that the Cuban revolution needed him in order to survive is palpably false.

Statement by Cuba’s delegate Salanueva in interactive dialogue with the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

March 12, 2013

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Statement by Olga Salanueva in interactive dialogue with the Working
Group on Arbitrary Detention. Twenty-Second Session of the Human Rights Council

Distinguished representatives:

Since the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared arbitrary arrest, trial
and imprisonment of our family in 2005, we have come to this forum in the hope
of achieving justice. Eight years have passed and we’re still finding our cries
falling on deaf ears by the government that prosecuted, and shamelessly violated
each of its laws to punish them severely. Despite opinion No 19/2005 of the
Working Group is the current U.S. government still does not comply.

Meanwhile, the terrorists whom they were monitoring still live unmolested in
South Florida. The violation of the right of freedom that has been committed
against them is only the instrument for the accomplishment of a major violation:
violation of the right to life of Cubans who for years have been victims of such
terrorist acts. Given what this body of UN keeps telling us, in a cynical way,
that some humans are more than others, and that those who are least able to be
killed with impunity if the murderers are related to the criminal policy of the
United States of America against the people of Cuba.

We won’t cease to denounce the crime that trial was rigged and vindictive. We’ll
never give up hope that a world of justice is ever reflected in international
institutions. These Cuban Five were sacrificed and it’s their freedom we demand.

Someday mankind will look with amazement the dark ages when one dark power could
mock power with impunity, in the eyes of the world, organizations established
for this noble purpose.

Thank you very much.

(Cubaminrex / Permanent Mission of Cuba in Geneva)

Sent March 5, 2013
Google translation.Revised by Walter Lippmann.


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