This is a guest “note” from Gail Reed, an American journalist based in Havana. Her comments are from an email, published at The Washington Note with her permission, commenting on the recent U.S.-Cuban migration talks and Cuba’s declaration released after the talks concluded:
…it seems that the most important points to pick up from the Cuban declaration on the migration talks are:
1) Mutual respect recognized: this may seem like standard language for
such communiqués, but it certainly is not where Cuba and US government talks are concerned. It is highly significant that the Cubans publicly state that an ambience of respect reigned throughout the talks. Chalk up a point to Obama for this one.
2) Wet foot/dry foot policy: this is the policy that has allowed
illegal Cuban émigrés automatic US residency if they reach US soil by any means, plus federal monies to support them during their “adjustment” to US life. This, in sharp contrast to how Haitian refugees, in particular, have historically been treated by US authorities. During the long nightmare of the Duvaliers, later nightmares man-made and natural, they have been systematically mistreated and returned home. The Cuban government considers the Cuban Adjustment Act, which plays favorites with Cubans, to be an enticement for would-be Cuban émigrés who have not received US visas to try to get to the US by makeshift rafts or paying the Miami version of “coyotes”. (In either case, this is a dangerous undertaking-as one who witnessed ladies in curlers and bathing suits setting off for Florida on plywood rafts strapped to 50-gallon oil drums during the 90s rafter crisis, I can say many who start out on the trip have no idea how dangerous it can be, not to mention tragedies like those of young Elian Gonzalez.)
3) We can only hope that the talks also gave more opportunity for the
two governments to discuss potential cooperation in Haiti, although the overwhelming presence of US troops does not sit well for Cuba or for most of Latin America, and as such constitutes a political barrier to substantial post-quake cooperation.
— Gail Reed