Cuba Formally Protests US Visa Failures

Cuba's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it had formally protested the U.S. State Department's acknowledgment it will not meet this fiscal year's minimum quota of 20,000 visas for Cubans wanting to live in the U.S.

Cuba Formally Protests US Visa Failures
It accused Washington of violating accords aimed at ensuring safe and orderly migration, while U.S. officials blamed Cuban restrictions for the problem.

Dagoberto Rodriguez, chief of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, said in a statement distributed via e-mail that his office sent a diplomatic note to State Department officials.

"It now corresponds to the United States government to end with the manipulation of the migratory issue in its relations with Cuba," Rodriguez said.

The visa quota flap erupted in mid-July, when Havana warned that the U.S. Interests Section, the American mission here, was not on track to grant at least 20,000 emigration visas before the end of the U.S. government fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

U.S. officials confirmed that they would not fill the quota and blamed the Cuban government, saying it had blocked necessary materials and American personnel from entering the country.

"We categorically reject that accusation," Rodriguez said. "The United States authorities deliberately lie."

U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey on Wednesday again blamed Havana for failure to reach the quota, saying if Cuba wanted to help it could "stop interfering with the work of the Interests Section."

"There have been any number of instances over the last few months where vital equipment and supplies, personnel needed to repair some of the things in our Interests Section, have been blocked or prevented from entry," Casey told a news briefing in Washington.

Havana has suggested that American officials denied visas were not involved with visa processing, and sought mostly for help in renovating mission facilities.

As for equipment and supplies, Rodriguez said the American mission had been allowed to import 80.3 metric tons of goods into Cuba in 2006 and suggested other goods still held up by Cuban customs were materials "used for the promotion of subversive activities against our country."

AP
Last Mod: 08 Ağustos 2007, 22:51
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