Havana, Cuba, Dec 1.- The Government of the Republic of Cuba reiterates its commitment to a legal, orderly and safe migration; it will continue guaranteeing the right to travel and emigration of Cuban citizens and return to the country, as required by the immigration legislation.
Since early November, a complex situation arose from the arrival in Costa Rica, in increasing numbers, of Cuban citizens from several Latin American countries, with the intention of migrating to the United States.
Several thousands of Cubans who legally left Cuba and entered the same way a first country of destination, where they began their irregular trip, are right now in an illegal situation in Central and South America bound for the US-Mexico border.
This irregular migration is organized by people-trafficking networks operating in the region, responsible for acts of violence, extortion, harassment and other crimes of which Cubans are victims in their attempt to reach the United States, after a dangerous path of no less than 7700 kilometers and eight illegally border crossings.
The Government of the Republic of Cuba expressed its concern and has remained in contact with the countries involved in looking for a quick and appropriate solution, as stated in the Declaration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 18th.
The position of our country on this issue was clearly expressed during the meeting of the eight countries that make up the Central American Integration System (SICA), held on November 24 in El Salvador, and to which, in addition, Mexico, Ecuador , Colombia and Cuba were invited. There, participants called for a comprehensive solution to this situation and denounced the manipulation of Cuban migration issue by the United States.
All these countries called for the adoption of strong and immediate measures to prevent illegal migration flows through their territories and spoke out against the policy of "Dry Feet -Wet Feet", the Cuban Medical Professional Parole, and the Cuban Adjustment Act Cuban, that promote illegal, unsafe and disorderly emigration from Cuba for political purposes and are discriminatory against Latin American and Caribbean migrants that are permanently deported and victims of abuse, separation of families and the violation of their human rights, especially unaccompanied children by US authorities.
The increase in the number of Cubans who, having gone abroad legally, try to arrive in US territory after transiting irregularly by nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, is associated with totally unfounded speculation that, as a result of restoration of diplomatic relations and dialogue between Cuba and the United States, migratory privileges enjoyed by Cubans in this country, under the executive policies and legislation, could be eliminated.
For decades, the United States has in effect the policy called "wet feet- dry feet" policy and the Cuban Adjustment Act, which grants to citizens of Cuba preferential immigration treatment which is not applied to any other person the world, which encourages them to try to reach US territory irregularly, with the certainty that they will be accepted automatically and immediately.
This is based on an exceptional, politicized and discriminatory approach to immigrants from other nations in the region and the world; it is also inconsistent with the existence of diplomatic relations, the process of ongoing dialogue between Cuba and the United States and incompatible with the announced change in policy toward the island.
It is worth remembering that the US government has historically used its immigration policy as a weapon against the Revolution, and encouraged emigration from Cuba for political purposes, which has caused loss of human lives, ships and aircraft hijackings, the commission of other violent criminal acts, the occurrence of migratory crisis and the brain drain.
It is proved that the motivations of the Cuban emigration are fundamentally economic, as in most emigrant countries of the world.
In January 2013, Cuba announced the upgrade of its immigration policy, which included facilitating travel of its citizens abroad, as part of the implementation of the Guidelines for Economic and Social Policy approved by the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba and endorsed by the National Assembly of People's Power. The application of these immigration measures has passed normally.
In the past three years, nearly half a million Cubans have traveled to other countries for personal reasons, representing a growth of 81% over the 2010-2012 period. The main destinations are the United States, Mexico, Panama, Spain and Ecuador. These trips were mostly temporary leave to visit family, to work for a period or other activities.
In this context, the migration of Cuban professionals in the health sector constitutes a concern for the country. Important specialties like anesthesiologists, general surgery, intensive care, cardiology, pediatrics, neurosurgery, nephrology, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics and traumatology, neonatology, among others, have been seriously affected by the unplanned exit of vital medical personnel.
To develop the skills and knowledge required for the development of modern science in these highly specialized professionals, years of study and work experiences are required, making it impossible to achieve their training in a short period of time.
The US government, which deprived Cuba of half its doctors in the early years of the Revolution, established in 2006, during the presidency of George W. Bush, the Cuban Medical Professional Parole, unique its kind in the world, aimed at damaging the international medical cooperation programs of our country and deprived of these vital human resources that Cuba and recipient nations need.
It has the perverse objective of promoting the abandonment of Cuban medical professionals of their missions in other countries, actively facilitating their migration using its embassies to encourage them to do so.
Also, the facilities offered by various countries, especially private clinics, to Cuban health personnel led to the establishment of qualified labor force abroad and networks dedicated to the selection and financing of the exit of our professionals have been detected.
Since the triumph of the Revolution, it has been a priority of the government of Cuba to ensure high levels of health services to the Cuban people, to which significant human and material resources are devoted.
The health system in Cuba is universal, free and accessible to the whole population, despite the financial constraints we face, which are aggravated by the hardships caused by the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States.
Given the need to ensure our people an efficient and quality health and mitigate the damages now occurring as a result of the selective and politicized immigration policy of the United States toward Cuba and increasing unplanned recruitment of Cuban doctors in other countries, it has decided to apply the regulations established in Decree 306, of October 11, 2012, for departures abroad for personal reasons of medical professionals of different specialties who perform vital activities in health services to the population and in scientific and technical activity.
This does not mean that medical specialists cannot travel or live abroad, but dates out of the country will be analyzed, taking into account the relief of each professional, to foster a labor law guaranteeing accessibility, quality, continuity and stable functioning of health services.
The Ministry of Health is in charge of implementing this regulation, which will be effective as of December 7, 2015.
Again, the health professionals who have left the country under the immigration policy in force, either due to economic, family or professional interest, including those who have been victims of deceptive policies that led them to abandon their missions and their country, may rejoin the Cuban health system, if thus they wish, and will be guaranteed a similar job location to which they had previously.
Moreover, as a contribution to the management of the current migratory flow at the request of many governments in the region, the government of the Republic of Ecuador has decided to restore the visa requirement for Cuban citizens traveling to that country, as announced on November 26 and became effective on December 1, 2015.
Other transit countries have declared that they will take measures to ensure compliance with their laws, protect their borders, and crack down trafficking networks and organized crime.
As reiterated on numerous occasions and raised again, to no avail, during the round of migration talks held last November 30 in Washington, the Government of the Republic of Cuba demands once again the removal of the "wet feet- dry feet " policy, the Cuban Medical Professional Parole and the Cuban Adjustment Act, which are the root cause of illegal immigration, smuggling and illegal entry to the United States by Cuban citizens legally traveling abroad; in violation of the letter and spirit of the migratory agreements signed by both countries.
This would be consistent with the current bilateral context, would serve the national interests of both sides and contribute to normalizing migratory relations between Cuba and the United States.
The Government of the Republic of Cuba reiterates its commitment to a legal, orderly and safe migration, to continue guaranteeing the right to travel and emigration of Cuban citizens and returning home, according to the requirements of the immigration legislation, if thus they wish.(acn)