The US Changes Visa Program with Cuba
By Jackson Lied
The United States halted the issue of visas to Cuban citizens, in an announcement on Friday, September 29 made by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The suspension includes the family reunification program amongst many Visa programs. The suspension was sudden and not very specific.
Adrián Núñez, a Cuban living in the U.S. awaiting visa approval for a family member, said, “Nobody understands what is happening,” reports the Miami Herald. This sentiment has been echoed by many representatives of the hundreds of thousands of people involved in the now suspended visa process.
Cuban citizens could attempt to get visas from a third country to go to the U.S., but this is near impossible for a majority of the Cuban population, reports the Miami Herald.
People are questioning whether this confusing and sweeping action to suspend the visa program was the correct step. A Cuban-American Representative Carlos Curbelo spoke of some other options the U.S. government could’ve chosen instead of affecting everyday Cubans trying to visit their families, according to the Miami Herald.
He suggested that action focused on Cuban officials would have been more prudent. Ms. Gonzalez, a woman involved, said, “Those are problems between countries and governments that should not interfere in our marriage, and yet the days pass, but I don’t see a way to be reunited with my husband,” reports The New York Times.
There are a reported 106,351 Cubans who no longer know if the visas that they were awaiting will ever be awarded to them, according to The New York Times. Many of these people have been waiting years only to see their progress halted without explanation. Families are being separated, immigrants left in solitude.
Ms. Miranda, a social worker in Miami, captured this issue precisely when comparing it to how a mother feels when losing a child. This is not the extent of the relationships being affected as husbands are without wives, siblings without siblings, and so on.
This damaging suspension is not the only new effect of worsening Cuban relations. The U.S. has also expelled Cuban diplomats and business officials from their posts. The action against businesspeople plays a particular role in worsening the slowly growing economic partnership between the U.S. and Cuba.
After the Détente from the Obama administration in 2014, businesses had flowed into Cuba. Then realizing the economic reality, things began to slow. This move by the U.S. government may cause them to stop altogether. Cuban attorney Pedro Freyre describes the feeling as “the chilling effect of a diplomatic crisis,” reports Reuters.
The diplomatic crisis that Freyre is referring to includes: the suspension of visas, the expulsion of Cuban diplomats and officials, and the withdrawal of U.S. diplomatic and embassy staff. This all comes following supposed sonic attacks on American and Canadian diplomatic staff working in Cuba.
The attacks, according to The Telegraph, caused hearing impairment, nausea, dizziness and mild cognitive impairment. It is still unknown who brought on these attacks, but it is thought to be unlikely that it is the Cuban government as they have been cooperating with the investigation.
Trump has taken steps deemed incorrect by multiple parties. Marco Rubio has called the steps taken “weak, unacceptable, and outrageous,” reports the Telegraph. However, the diplomats working in Cuba said it is something that they expected with their line of work.
The criticism surrounding the visa program calls into question the legitimacy of the solutions themselves.