Response from the Ambassador of Cuba, H.E. Ernesto Soberón Guzmán to the statements made by Mr. Branville McCartney, Leader of the Democratic National Alliance and Mr. Duane Sands, Deputy Chairman of the Free National Movement.
Dear Mr. McCartney and Mr. Sands:
Regarding your recent comments related with Cuba, I will like to comment some of the points highlighted in your statements.
I don’t know if you are aware that since January 14th, 2013, Cuba started implementing new regulations made to its Migratory Law, allowing any Cuban national to travel abroad with the only requirement of having 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 that want to visit United States something very different takes place. Unfortunately, most of the times, the requests of visa to travel to United States is denied by the American Office of Interest in Havana, and it happens more than one time to a single person, mostly if that person is not a high qualify professional . This fact pushes some to try to reach American territory illegally and by any means.
Why 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 addressed only to Cuban migrants.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot Policy”. Like you know 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 fled Cuba and got into the United States would be allowed to pursue residency a year later. A year later!!! So the questions are ¿Are Cuban immigrants better than any other immigrants? ¿Are there better and worse immigrants? I could continue giving you details on the American migratory policy towards Cuban nationals by that´s something we can deal with some other time.
None of the Cuban illegal migrants that arrive to Bahamian territory or anywhere else are political refugees, none of them. What takes them to go travel abroad is their individual will and desire of improving their economic situation, something that is not typical of these times we are living. Migratory movements, whatever their objectives, is a historic issue, experienced by all societies so far.
In relation with the fate of those Cuban nationals involved in Repatriation processes from the Bahamas to Cuba. Allow me to said that even Congress officials from Florida and the most bitter media have recognized that Cuban nationals does not experience any kind of persecution or imprisonment once they return to their country. You can follow up this issue in recent declaration to the press of the officials I am referring here.
On this regard, I continue waiting for any individual or the media itself, to give me a name of a single Cuban national that has suffered persecution or imprisonment after being return to Cuba through a repatriation process.
One more point, concerning the Repatriation process between Cuba and the Bahamas, let me make clear that all of them, have been performed under both, Memorandum of Understanding on Illegal Migration signed between Cuba and The Bahamas in 1988 and 1996, and each and every single of these exercises have been taking place since then, including the period in which Mr. McCartney was serving as the Minister responsible 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 Center and their living conditions. This can be proved through the many requests to visit the Detention center made to the Department of Immigration as well as to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas. Only in 2013, our Embassy has paid 8 visits to that facility besides dealing with the huge amounts of emails and phone calls from the relatives 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 have 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 will be very naïve and mistaken to emit comments on the Cuban reality without living in our country or, more important, without knowing the history of the relationship between Cuba and the United States in depth.
As I said before, we can talk about it a lot more whenever you wish.
H.E. Ernesto Soberón Guzmán
Embassy of the Republic of Cuba
PS: 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?