At meeting in Havana, US urges Cuba to release all political prisoners

The United States expressed concern about the human rights situation in Cuba and called for the Castroist dictatorship to “unconditionally release all political prisoners” during a meeting between representatives of the two countries in Havana.

These issues were discussed during the visit of the Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Rena Bitter, and the director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ur Mendoza Jaddou, to the Caribbean country, which began last Tuesday and ended this Thursday (), according to a statement released by the US Embassy.

They also discussed issues such as the “procedure of the Cuban family reunification” and the “resumption of visa processing for immigrants in early 2023 at the US embassy in Havana.”

American representatives met on Wednesday with Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío, according to the note.

According to a statement from the Cuban government, the meeting addressed “the importance of the full resumption of consular and immigration services at the US embassy in Havana”. However, the text made no reference to the issue of human rights.

This meeting took place in the midst of a massive exodus of Cubans, mainly to the United States. In the last fiscal year (October 2021 to September 2022), there was a record number of irregular migrants in general – and Cubans in particular – arriving at the southern border of the States United. Migration has become a key issue in American domestic politics.

There was 607.224 Cuban migrants in that period, according to the US Department of Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In addition, the US Coast Guard has detained more than 6.182 Cubans along the coast of Florida since October 1, 2021.

During this period, the US government issued 23.224 visas for Cubans and, for the first time since 2017, it complied with the bilateral migration agreement of 2017, which stipulates the issuance of a minimum of 20 thousand visas per year for Cuban citizens.

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