Monday, June 1, 2009

Time to talk

Cuba delivered a diplomatic note to the State Department Saturday accepting the Obama Administration’s offer to resume semiannual talks to discuss the implementation of the 1994 migration accords, and to discuss resumption of direct mail service between the two countries.

Cuba also wants terrorism, drug enforcement, and hurricane preparedness to be on the agenda. Here’s coverage from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Reuters.

Secretary of State Clinton said she is “very pleased” by the news, noting that the Administration has “made more progress [in U.S.-Cuba relations] in four months than has been made in a number of years” (which isn’t saying much). She went on: “Greater connections can lead to a better, freer future for the Cuban people. These talks are in the interest of the United States, and they are also in the interest of the Cuban people.”

The talks will give the new Administration a chance to make and present its own assessment of the migration accords. The Bush Administration complained regularly that Cuba failed to grant exit permits to hundreds of Cubans to whom visas have been granted, and that Cuba refuses to permit the United States to conduct a new visa lottery to generate applicants for the immigrant visa program. The last lottery was held more than ten years ago. For its part, Cuba can be expected to argue that the United States’ wet foot-dry-foot policy violates the migration accords because it admits, rather than repatriates, Cubans who arrive in the United States by “irregular” means. The accords were negotiated at a time when thousands of Cubans had come to the United States by boats and rafts; since then the bulk of illegal migration has occurred via alien smuggling.

These talks won’t solve all the differences between Cuba and the United States. But it’s a good development that I hope will give both sides an opportunity to press issues of concern (for the United States, including human rights) in a face-to-face setting and to find other areas in which to work, such as environmental protection.

A statement of mine on talks with Cuba and U.S. national security interests is here.


Anonymous said...

Was direct mail ever reinstated since it was eliminated in the 1960s?

Vecino de NF

Anonymous said...

the talks are a complete waste of time...the U.S. interests and the regime interests are completely incompatible. President Obama said the guide for his policy would be "liberty" not the "environment."

The Hypervigilant Observer said...

Will direct postal service from the US...STOP the Cubans from opening mail...looking for cash...and then discarding it?

The indirect delivery through Mexico was not the problem.
It only delayed mail a few days more.

Lex Wadelski

Anonymous said...

let the talks begin!
why is there fear that they may succeed, under the guise of incompatibility? that's the reason to talk (see egypt and israel as just one example)

Anonymous said...

cuba is ready for talk abouth inmigration , but what about the most important things like freedon , humans rights.they are only interest how to send more cubans here because he can not provide a decent standar life of living.

Anonymous said...

Let's see...Egypt and Israel. The historic breakthrough was made because of Sadat's willingness to compromise on recognizing Israel's right to exist. Where does anyone expect this to lead, the US compromising on democracy and human rights? or the Castro regime compromising on absolute power? I think I know what the answer is -- and it isn't "both."

leftside said...

You can't mention Wet Foot, Dry Foot without the Cuban Adjustment Act. Both are connected. Together, these US policies are, by far, the #1 most important factor preventing the normalization of migration between the 2 countries. They are also represent the #1 violation of the signed US-Cuba Migration Accords.

For those who want to connect issues of "human rights" to these migration talks, I'm sure Cuba is fine with that as long as Cuba gets to grill US officials on their domestic policies. It sounds like, before they cut them off, the Bush officials tried to use the talks as a pretext to talk about everything under the sun. The Cubans say obliged and "never refused to debate and examine any of the issues mentioned by US officials." Even after the talks were torpedoed, Cuban affirmed "that it has been and is willing to seriously debate, with the required depth and time, all the issues mentioned by the US authorities."

Other issues the Cubans want discussed are: Issues such as the dramatic reduction of visas for Cuban citizens wishing to visit relatives in the United States; the non-return to Cuba of a portion of the illegal immigrants interdicted at sea; the encouragement to illegal migration and to the commission of violent acts to migrate from the radio stations based in the United States; as well as the lack of decisive action against alien smugglers, inter alia.

Anonymous said...

"Time to talk."

You got it right, Phil. But the highest priority for talks - uncensored talks without fear of reprisals - exists between the Cuban people and the dictatorship.

Lefty, as usual, supports the regime's efforts to ignore, suppress and punish any calls for basic human rights from the Cuban people, beginning with the universal right to freedom of expression.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous of 8:13 am,
did you expect the lickspittle Leftie to ever change his position on Cuba? This is like asking a whore to find virtue after practicing her trade in the whorehouse for decades. Do you want peaches from a rotten elm?

leftside said...

Anon 8:13, I thought we were talking about cries about human rights from US officials? I am fine with criticism, but it is better when it deals with what I actually said.

Anonymous said...

egypt and israel exactly the point, WHEN the USA recognizes the Cuban government then talks will advance.

What BS re human rights, how's about invading a country for no legitimate reason, torturing innocents, imprisoning them for years without trial, then refusing to prosecuting the guilty. The United States of American has NO right to talk to anyone about human rights. They maintain full and friendly relations with regimes far worse re civil rights abuses than Cuba. And try, for once, to distinguish human rights -- food, shelter, health, from civil rights.

Anonymous said...

Peters, what do you think it is about your blog that attracts crackpots like this?