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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Statement on Cuba Family Reunification and Migration Issues
Washington, DC, August 28, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The Government of Cuba is increasingly obstructing the safe, legal, and orderly migration of individuals from Cuba. The result is to cruelly deny long-separated families a chance to re-unite, and to heighten the chance that Cubans will risk their lives trying to reach the United States through illegal means. Havana’s present policies are in violation of bilateral commitments, international norms and fundamental human decency.

Today, at my direction, the State Department lodged a formal protest with the Cuban Interests Section located in the Swiss Embassy here in Washington. Our objections include 1) arbitrary and routine denials of exit permits to persons with approved U.S. immigration documents, including denials of permits to family members of persons deemed by Cuba to be "defectors;" 2) unfair obstacles to emigration faced by medical personnel; 3) the requirement that Cubans pay an exorbitant $550 exit fee (compared to an average annual wage in Cuba of $144) for the right to emigrate to the United States; and 4) Cuba’s refusal to use the semi-annual Migration Talks process to resolve these and related issues. In fact, Cuba cancelled the most recent round of talks, scheduled for June. I take this opportunity to urge the Cuban government to resume these talks now.

In lodging the protest, we presented Cuba with a snapshot list of 117 individuals who have been denied exit permits without reasonable cause during the past 75 days alone.

Havana has an obligation to work in a professional way to enable agreed numbers of Cubans to emigrate to the United States legally and safely. This is in the interests of both nations. It reflects the past commitments we each have made. It is the right thing to do for our families. And it is consistent with global standards of human rights and law.

Over the past year, the Cuban Government has engaged in ceaseless rhetoric about migration issues, including the importance of family re-unification. Now would be a good time to back that rhetoric with responsible action.

[End of Document]

For additional information, see:

  • 08/28/00: Cuba-U.S. Migration Accord
  • 08/28/00: Exit Controls and GOS-Imposed Barriers to Travel
  • 08/28/00: Approved Cuban Migrants
  • 08/28/00: The Cuban Adjustment Act (Public Law 89-732, November 2, 1966, as amended)
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