Obtaining a US visa for the Cuban people four years ago has become a headache since the embassy closed, but the scheduled announcement this Thursday (3) in the diplomatic mission in Havana has raised hopes.
The State Department spokesman told the AFP on Tuesday that it was evaluating staff “to facilitate the participation of diplomatic and civil society and the delivery of services,” but the US embassy summoned reporters without specifying why.
In September 2017, Donald Trump’s Republican administration reduced its staff to a minimum in September 2017, arguing that mysterious health events described as sonic attacks affected its ambassadors in 2016 and 2017.
This phenomenon, known as “Havana Syndrome”, was later reported to other embassies around the world.
For the Cuban people, the closure of the embassy became a barrier to obtaining a US visa and forced them to travel to a third country, such as Colombia and Guyana, to apply for the document.
On the streets of Havana, people believe the promised announcement is good news.
Nelida Bartolon, 48, says the disruption of diplomatic services has “affected many economically” because “visas are now being obtained in Guyana.”
“It’s good to get this out of here, Cubans do not have to spend so much money to get a visa,” thinks this Cuban woman, who estimates that 98% of her peers are interested in advertising.
– “Silent Mary” –
People like Philip Mesa, 75, who retired from working in the electrical industry, are hopeless. “Let’s see if that’s true.”
The island is facing the worst economic crisis in nearly 30 years as a result of the epidemic and US sanctions. A large number of Cubans are seeking to settle on the border with the United States, especially through Central America.
According to Cuban political scientist Rafael Hernandez, the “deliberate” interruption of the immigration agreement with Cuba, which issued 20,000 annual visas to Cubans, caused “a kind of peace on the part of Mariel” over four years, he says of the port. As a result, in 1980, about 125,000 people left for the United States.
The number of Cubans without visas on U.S. soil will increase from 21,000 in 2019 to 40,000 in 2020, the political scientist said.
With Trump’s visit to the White House in January 2017, diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States have cooled, and since 1961, relations with Barack Obama, who re – established relations in 2015, have broken down.
The Cuban government hopes that things will improve with the arrival of Joe Biden in 2021. It’s not like that.
Hernandez points out that the opening of the embassy has nothing to do with the continuation of Obama’s policy, which is to “reverse” the atrocities perpetrated by Trump on the Cuban people living in the United States.
For his part, Michael Schiffer, chairman of the Inter-American Dialogue Thought Group, agrees that “it would be wrong to interpret this as the beginning of a significant opening for the island.” This is a decision that both Republicans and Democrats support, saying “there is no political cost to the Biden administration.”
Dozens were injured and 1,377 people were detained after killing one person on July 11 protests on the island, according to the human rights NGO Quplex.
According to Shifter, who says it is “difficult to imagine much change by the (US) government in relation to Cuba”, “improving relations is not a gesture”, there is a possibility that Democrats will lose control of both chambers. -Election November.
A State Department spokesman told AFP that the expansion of U.S. personnel in Cuba would take into account the “security” of the authorities.
Of the hundreds of cases reported as “sonic attacks”, the U.S. intelligence services noted in January that about twenty had no regular medical or environmental explanation. Researchers at the Cuban Academy of Sciences have denied any involvement in the attacks.
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