Cuba blames US sanctions for fomenting irregular migration amid exodus

By Nelson Acosta

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuban and U.S. officials met Tuesday in Havana to discuss migration, the second such meeting this year as both countries grapple with how best to slow the record-breaking flow of Cubans north to the United States.

The United States – the top destination for Cuban migrants -in 2022 renewed talks with Cuba and has since increased legal pathways to migration for Cubans, including visa access in Havana, family reunification and humanitarian parole programs aimed at stemming illegal migration.

But the problem won’t go away, said Cuban vice foreign minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, until the United States eases sanctions on the island, which Cuba blames for devastating its already-ailing state-run economy.

“For the United States, the priority of destabilizing Cuba continues to take precedence over its interest in protecting its borders in terms of migration,” de Cossio told reporters following the talks.

The U.S. says the sanctions are necessary to promote human rights and fundamental liberties in Cuba and that it makes exceptions for humanitarian purposes.

The U.S. State Department said in a brief statement that the Tuesday talks were “consistent with our interest in fostering family reunification and promoting greater respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba.”

Cubans are among the tens of thousands of people from several Latin American and Caribbean nations that have crossed into the U.S. from Mexico in recent weeks, alarming officials in U.S. border cities and prompting delays to trade.

(Reporting by Nelson Acosta; editing by Dave Sherwood and Leslie Adler)