Expelled Spy Josefina Vidal Resumes Lead in US-Cuba Migration Talks 3

US-Cuba migration talks to be held Wednesday in Havana

By Juan O. Tamayo, JTamayo@elNuevoHerald.com

U.S. and Cuban government officials will meet in Havana on Wednesday for the second round of migration talks since the Obama administration resumed the contacts in July, according to well informed sources.

The U.S. State Department had no immediate comment but last summer said the talks do not represent a change in U.S. policy toward the island and are consistent with Washington’s efforts to ensure safe migration between the two nations.

President George W. Bush suspended the migration talks, held twice a year since 1995, in 2003. The Obama administration resumed them in 2009 but suspended them again after Cuba arrested U.S. government contractor Alan P. Gross on Dec. 3, 2009.

The talks resumed again on July 17, 2013 in Washington, without any official explanation of why they had been suspended or why they were starting up again.

The second round will start Wednesday in Havana, according to sources who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to make the information public. There was no indication of how many days they would last.

Under U.S.-Cuba migration accords in 1994 and 1995 — which followed the 1994 exodus of more than 30,000 people on homemade rafts — Washington promised to issue at least 20,000 migrant visas to Cubans per year. The two nations also agreed to meet periodically and work toward “safe, legal and orderly migration.”

The U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana issued 24,727 immigrant visas in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2013, a dip compared to 26,720 in FY2012, according to U.S. government figures. The number of tourist visas issued in the same period more than doubled, from 14,362 to 29,927.

An El Nuevo Herald report on Dec. 9 estimated that at least 44,000 Cuban migrants arrived in the United States, both legally and illegally, during the 12-month period, the highest total in a decade.

State Department spokesman William Ostick noted in July that continuing to “ensure secure migration between the U.S. and Cuba is consistent with our interests in promoting greater freedoms and increased respect for human rights in Cuba.”

Those talks were led by Eduard Alex Lee, then acting deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, and Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, the Cuban foreign ministry director general for U.S. affairs.

Resumption of migration talks was widely perceived as part of an Obama administration effort to make improvements around the edges of U.S.-Cuba relations, largely frozen by Gross’ continued imprisonment.

After the July meeting, U.S. officials repeated their call for the release of Gross while Cuban officials continued to complain that friendly U.S migration policies for Cubans are luring away island citizens.

Gross is serving a 15-year prison sentence in Havana for giving Cuban Jews sophisticated communications equipment, paid for by the U.S. government in what Cuban officials regard as a thinly veiled effort to topple the communist government.

Obama administration officials insist that there can be no significant warming of U.S.-Cuba relations unless Gross goes home. Havana has offered to swap him for four convicted Cuban spies in U.S. prisons, but Washington has rejected that deal.

Editor’s Note: Vidal departed Washington in May 2003 after the US declared her husband and 13 other Cuban spy-diplomats Persona Non Grata. Among the seven spies expelled from the Cuban Interest Section was her husband, First Secretary Jose Anselmo Lopez Perera. First Secretary Josefina de la C. Vidal, also known to the US as a Cuban Intelligence Officer, “voluntarily” returned to Cuba.

The husband-wife spy team was chosen for expulsion, in part, because Washington knew Havana historically withdraws the spouse of any expelled spy.

3 comments

  1. The way immigration policy towards Cuba is working actually is not good.Why am I saying this?Because our policies are to open for Castroids to immigrate to the US.I have seen dissidents complaining that their torturers are traveling to the US freely without restrictions,sons and daughters of communist Generals are living in Florida,Ex- communist agents and members of the dreaded MININT are living in Florida like they never have done anything against anyone,Members of the communist party are living in Vegas and other cities in violation of immigration form N-485,What is this a circus? Communists from Cuba traveling freely to our country unopposed.SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE!

  2. Our immigration authorities needs to do a better background of those Visa applicants from Cuba,there is no reason why active members of the communist party and the MININT travel to the US to shop.This is unacceptable.

  3. Thank you for pointing out how the Miami Herald reports half-truths. They cautiously omit that Vidal was expelled from the U.S. for spying. The Herald has gone through numerous editors and publishers and good and bad reporters have departed, but their style of shoddy reporting on Cuban issues and not unmasking Castro spies in the community, has persisted.

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