U.S. and Cuban officials have met for a third time since talks resumed last summer to discuss policies and procedures to promote safe, legal and orderly migration between Cuba and the United States. The effort underscores our commitment to continue to adhere to full implementation of the 1994 U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords.
Sixteen years ago, in an effort to persuade those hoping to leave Cuba not to risk the dangerous sea voyages to South Florida, the two countries signed an agreement calling for 20,000 travel documents to be issued to Cubans each year. Discussions on implementing the accords were typically held about twice a year, but were suspended in 2003. The Obama Administration resumed the discussions in July 2009. Craig Kelly, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, has led the U.S. delegation since the resumption, while Vice Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodriguez Barrera has headed the delegation on the Cuban side.
The recent discussions in Washington centered on ensuring that the U.S. Interests Section in Havana is able to operate effectively; that officials there can meet with and monitor the welfare of migrants who are returned to Cuba after attempting to illegally migrate to the U.S.; and that Cuban officials accept Cuban nationals back who have been ordered to depart because they were convicted criminal aliens subject to removal.
Engaging in such discussions underscores the U.S. interest in pursuing a constructive dialogue on issues of mutual concern that affect the security and well being of our citizens. These include reestablishing discussions about direct mail service, authorizing unrestricted family visits and remittances, as well as increasing humanitarian and telecommunications flows.
It is hoped that the Havana government will respond to these good-faith gestures with steps of its own to ensure the most basic human rights and improve the lives of its people.