Since his arrival in the White House in January 2021, current president Joe Biden has driven a similar policy for the island to that of his predecessor, Donald Trump, with a few minor adjustments. He has also kept unchanged the 243 measures imposed by that government.
Among the measures put in place by Trump’s government is the requirement for Cubans to travel to Guyana and other countries to carry out immigration proceedings.
Such a decision signified an obstacle to their legal, safe and orderly movement, in addition to other rulings such as the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows citizens of the island who are physically present in the United States for at least a year, to receive permanent residency. This is how the historian and Havana University professor, Hassan Perez Casabona, understands it, who states that this mechanism “encourages irregular and disorderly migration and people trafficking, with a significant cost to life. It also has criminal intentions because it encourages, based on reuniting families, migratory processes which have not been internationally agreed or defended”, he said.
From 4th January, the US Embassy will resume full visa processing, with the inclusion of immediate family, family preference, diversity and marriage visas; which will mean an increase in the people receiving them.
According to official figures, in the past five years, the Embassy only processed around 4,000 visas. This means that the White House has not fulfilled the migratory agreements signed with Cuba in 1994 and 1995.
These agreements establish the promise to grant a minimum of 20,000 visas annually to Cubans wishing to travel to the United States, and to hold biannual rounds of talks to verify the achievement of this promise.
Relationships and actions
The agreements and memoranda signed during Barack Obama’s final term (2013-2017), allowed a respectful and civilised diplomatic understanding, and involved the scientific, environmental and cultural sectors.
“This was the beginning of a path that could have been wider, if the process of reversal and stagnation that started during Trump’s presidency, and is still continuing today, had not taken place”, Perez Casabona added.
In their view, after the mid-term elections in the United States for the renewal of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate, during this final stretch of his presidency, Biden could resume some of the actions promised during his electoral campaign.
The specialist values the enormous strength between Washington and Havana with respect to the fields of academics, culture, science and sports, beyond their ideological differences and opposing stances about concepts such as democracy, public involvement and the socialist nature of the Cuban Revolution.
Nevertheless, the truth is that Joe Biden has rarely proposed his own policies. On the contrary, his behaviour, characterised by immobility, contrasts with his own campaign promises, alluding to the promotion of ties, similar to that which was launched by Obama.
Foreign agenda towards the island
In conversation with Prensa Latina the professor and researcher of the Centre of International Economic Research at Havana University, Luis Rene Fernandez Tabio, stated that “this was one of the decisions that has had the greatest impact on families, bilateral links and people-to-people exchanges”.
Fernandez mentioned other measures such as the restoration of flights to other Cuban provinces, eliminated in 2019 and that, since August 2020, only included Havana.
However, in his opinion, Biden, in almost two years of presidency, has not touched the most sensitive and high impact instruments of Cuban reality, among them the remittances. Neither have they changed the mechanisms of the economic war.
Furthermore, Cuba remains on the list of state sponsors of terrorism (it was re-added in January 2021), which repudiates the 19 international conventions signed by Havana for tackling terrorism.
Despite the fact that, last May, Washington communicated a series of initiatives apparently directed at reversing Trump’s punitive actions, for example, in the case of remittances, there is still no practical support to restore their transfer, nor are there interbank connections and there are still sanctions on the Cuban corporation, Fincimex. All that took place in the context of a national and global financial crisis, Covid-19 pandemic, price rises; various accidents; the passage of Hurricane Ian last September and constant persecution in the spheres of transport, transfers and the acquisition of supplies.
With regards to the blockade, Perez Casabona referred to the vote, presented by Cuba at the United Nations General Assembly on 2nd and 3rd November, on the resolution against the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States. For the thirtieth time, the world called for an end to this siege, on this occasion with 185 votes in favour, two abstentions from Ukraine and Brazil, and two votes against, the United States and Israel.
In the analyst’s opinion, representatives of the states participating in the debate overwhelmingly denounced this policy as “criminal, genocidal and preventing the strategic development of the country; as not only does this deprive us of food and medicine, but also results in a sword of Damocles that has an impact on every one of our daily lives”.
(Translated by Donna Davison – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay.