Cuban officials, exiles dialogue via video

Apr 29, 2012, 2:50 AM

Associated Press

HAVANA (AP) – Cuban officials reached out to U.S. exiles on Saturday with a videoconference between Havana and Washington, promising a highly anticipated migratory reform, but cautioning that its scope might not satisfy everyone.

More than 100 Cuban-Americans and top Foreign Ministry officials discussed President Raul Castro’s ongoing economic changes in the encounter, hosted by Vice Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodriguez.

“There has been great advance in this process of normalizing relations” with the Cuban diaspora, Rodriguez said.

Amid the economic reforms and liberalized travel rules instituted by President Barack Obama, Cuba has increasingly sought to dialogue with segments of its large exile community, with several high-profile encounters recently.

Many exiles say they want nothing to do with government leaders in their homeland until Raul and Fidel Castro are out of power, but others are looking to play a role in the changes the island is undergoing.

A popular topic during Saturday’s videoconference between the Foreign Ministry in Havana and the Cuban Interests Section in Washington was a much-anticipated reform of migratory rules that, among other things, require Cubans to apply for an exit visa.

Cuban-Americans also questioned the officials about regulations that strip those who leave permanently of the right to own property back home, and bar them from investing or accessing Cuba’s recently legalized real estate market, which is currently only available to island residents.

Emigrants are treated as second-class citizens, complained a man who identified himself as Julio Ruiz of Miami.

Rodriguez said reforms being studied will take into account the realities of 50 years of emigration and make an “important contribution” to bringing Cubans everywhere closer together. But he also cautioned people not to expect too much.

“The migratory relaxation will take into account the revolutionary state’s right to defend itself from the interventionist plans of the U.S. government and its allies, and at the same time, reasonable countermeasures will be imposed to preserve the human capital created by the revolution,” Rodriguez said.

University of Denver scholar Arturo Lopez-Levy said it’s clear the Cuban government is looking to build bridges to exiles, but so far it has been talking more than listening.

“The official statements indicate that the government is interested in improving relations between the island and its diaspora,” Lopez-Levy said. “Nevertheless such improvement has not been conceived as part of a dialogue, which implies two-way communication and decision-making.

Still, there have been a number of prominent exchanges in recent weeks.

During Pope Benedict XVI’s recent visit to Cuba, hundreds of Cuban-Americans came here as pilgrims including Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski, who called for a “soft landing” from Marxism during an emotional sermon at the Havana Cathedral. Earlier this month, the Catholic Church organized a conference of scholars from the Cuban diaspora in Havana.

And Cuban-American businessman Carlos Saladrigas, a one-time hardline anti-Castro militant whose stance toward the island government has softened somewhat, held a conference that was attended by people ranging from dissidents to intellectuals to Communist Party members and others to the left of the communist-run government.

Rodriguez said 400,000 Cuban-Americans came to the island last year to see families or on religious or academic exchanges.

Such visits have increased sharply since Obama lifted restrictions on how often Cuban-Americans can travel back home.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, ...

Associated Press

Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire with Hamas; deal includes release of 50 hostages

Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a cease-fire deal with the Hamas militant group that would bring a temporary halt to a devastating war.

7 days ago

Palestinians leave their homes following Israeli bombardment on Gaza City, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023. (...

Associated Press

Israeli airstrikes crush apartments in Gaza refugee camp, as ground troops battle Hamas militants

A flurry of Israeli airstrikes Tuesday on a refugee camp near Gaza City leveled apartment buildings, leaving craters where they once stood.

28 days ago

Moroccan boys, Rayan and Ali walk amidst the rubble of their home which was damaged by the earthqua...

Associated Press

Powerful quake in Morocco kills more than 2,000 people and damages historic buildings in Marrakech

A powerful earthquake has struck Morocco, toppling buildings in villages and cities not built to withstand such force.

3 months ago

State Farm Stadium Gold Cup soccer arrests 2023...

Serena O'Sullivan

Police arrest five people after State Farm Stadium brawl on Thursday

Two people were arrested for a State Farm Stadium brawl after Thursday's soccer matches between Qatar and Honduras plus Mexico and Haiti.

5 months ago

Members of the Wagner Group military company load their tank onto a truck on a street. (AP Photo)...

Associated Press

Russia says Wagner Group’s leader will move to Belarus after his rebellious march challenged Putin

Russian leaders say the Wagner Group leader who staged a short-lived rebellion will move to Belarus and not face prosecution.

5 months ago

Associated Press

How (and when) to watch King Charles’ coronation in the US

There are plenty of options to watch the regalia-heavy event that serves as a formal confirmation of King Charles' dual role as head of state and titular leader of the Church of England.

7 months ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Follow @KTAR923...

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Desert Institute for Spine Care (DISC) wants to help Valley residents address back, neck issues through awake spine surgery

As the weather begins to change, those with back issues can no longer rely on the dry heat to aid their backs. That's where DISC comes in.

Cuban officials, exiles dialogue via video