Friday, January 29, 2010

Conference in Havana

Cuba's foreign ministry held a conference this week with more than 450 Cubans who live abroad. I haven’t seen reporting on the exchanges at the conference – from reports so far it looks like officials delivering their message to a supportive audience – but some news has come out of it.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said that 296,000 Cuban émigrés visited Cuba last year, but didn’t specify how many came from the United States. (See AP story.) He suggested that this level of visitation is hard to square with the image of political refugees (Prensa Latina), an argument one hears around here sometimes.

Rodriguez announced that a U.S. delegation would come to Havana February 19 for the next round of consultations on the bilateral migration accords (AP) but the State Department would not confirm that. Alien smuggling will be on the Cuban agenda, whenever the talks occur.

He also mentione the case of Alan Gross, the USAID contractor detained by Cuba last month, noting that he remains under investigation (Reuters).

As for the conference itself, Miami New Times has a wry take, and Yoani Sanchez discusses issues that she thinks should be on the agenda (English here).

If anyone knows of substantive exchanges that took place on Cuban immigration policy or anything else, I’m all ears.

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