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Cuban ambassador responds

Published: Aug 28, 2013

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Dear Editor,

Response from the Ambassador of Cuba, H.E. Ernesto Soberón Guzmán to the statements made by Branville McCartney, leader of the Democratic National Alliance and Duane Sands, deputy chairman of the Free National Movement.

Dear Mr. McCartney and Mr. Sands,

Regarding your recent comments related to Cuba, I would like to respond to some of the points highlighted in your statements.

I don’t know if you are aware that since January 14, 2013 Cuba has started to implement new regulations to its Migratory Law, allowing any Cuban national to travel abroad. The only requirement is an updated passport and the visa of the country that person is visiting. Cuban nationals travel abroad freely as any individual around the world.

Now, it happens to be that in relation with those Cuban nationals who want to visit the United States something very different takes place. Unfortunately, most of the time requests for visas to travel to the United States are denied by the American Office of Interest in Havana, unless the applicant is a highly qualified professional. This pushes some to try to reach American territory illegally and by any means.

Why do Cuban nationals continue to be willing to travel illegally to the United States despite knowing all the dangerous experiences they may go through during their journey? The answer is simple, the United States has a privileged migratory policy applied only to Cuban migrants.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot Policy”. It is the name given to a consequence of the 1995 revision of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 that says, essentially, that anyone who has fled Cuba and made it into the United States would be allowed to pursue residency a year later.

Are Cuban immigrants better than other immigrants? Are there better and worse immigrants? I could give you details on the American migratory policy towards Cuban nationals but that’s something we can deal with some other time.

None of the illegal Cuban migrants who arrive to Bahamian territory or anywhere else are political refugees. None of them. What makes them travel abroad is their individual will and desire to improve their economic situation. Migratory movement, whatever the objective, is an historic issue experienced by all societies.

In relation to the fate of those Cuban nationals involved in repatriation exercises from The Bahamas to Cuba, even Congress officials from Florida and the most bitter media have recognized that Cuban nationals do not experience any kind of persecution or imprisonment once they return to their country. I continue to wait for any individual or the media itself to give me the name of a single Cuban national that has suffered persecution or imprisonment after being returned to Cuba through a repatriation process.

One more point concerning the repatriation process between Cuba and The Bahamas, let me make it clear that a Memorandum of Understanding on Illegal Migration was signed between Cuba and The Bahamas in 1988 and 1996, and since then all repatriation exercises have taken place in accordance with that agreement, including those during the period in which Mr. McCartney was serving as the state minister for immigration during the last FNM government.

The staff at the Cuban Embassy to The Bahamas is very aware of the Cuban nationals at the Detention Centre and their living conditions. This can be proven through the many requests to visit the Detention Center made to the Department of Immigration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Bahamas. In 2013 our Embassy has paid eight visits to that facility, in addition to dealing with the huge amounts of email and phone calls from relatives of those that are housed there. Moreover, our Embassy maintains constant communication with the proper Bahamian authorities on this subject of common interest.

Dear Mr. McCartney and Mr. Sands, your consideration and appreciation are returned since I also hold both of you in high esteem. Remember that anything that can damage the image of Cuba to the world will always be used and over exaggerated by the political right wing in Florida. It would be very naïve and a mistake to make comments on the Cuban reality without living in our country or, more importantly, without knowing the history of the relationship between Cuba and the United States in depth.

As I have said before, we can talk about it a lot more whenever you wish.

Almost forgot, one more tiny detail, every year the majority of Cuban nationals that travel by legal means abroad returns to Cuba. Why would they want to go back to a communist country that continuously harasses its inhabitants?


— H.E. Ernesto Soberón Guzmán


Embassy of the Republic of Cuba

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