Castro made the comments during a meeting in Cuba with his counterpart from Costa Rica, where about 6,000 Cuban migrants have been stranded over the past month.
President Raul Castro condemned once again the U.S. “Wet Foot-Dry Foot” policy for allegedly fomenting the migration of Cubans to the United States. Castro’s comments came during a visit with Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis, who was visiting the island nation to strengthen bilateral relations.
Not only are U.S. policies encouraging migrants to take huge risks with their lives, said Castro, but they also discriminate against other countries in the region. Only Cubans are granted special residency rights, unlike the thousands of migrants from other Latin American countries deported from the U.S. every month.
Castro and his Costa Rican counterpart agreed to work toward an adequate solution to the migrant situation that would take into account the well-being of Cuban citizens and guarantee legal and secure migration.
The Cuban leader added that the Cubans in Costa Rica who wish to go back to the island are entitled to do so. The government will keep seeking a diplomatic solution to the issue, he added.
The U.S. still maintains a Cold War-era immigration policy with respect to Cubans. Under U.S. law, any Cuban who successfully touches down on U.S. soil is able to gain permanent residency after being present in the U.S. for one year.
However, Cubans are not granted travel visas to the U.S., nor are any other legal channels provided to them to reach the country. Furthermore, if they are intercepted before they arrive they are repatriated to the island nation. Cuba says the U.S. policy was designed to deliberately promote irregular, and often dangerous migration.
In order to avoid being intercepted at sea, many Cubans have opted out of traveling to the U.S. directly by boat. Instead, they take a roundabout route through countries like Ecuador—the only Latin American country that does not require Cubans to obtain a visa to enter—before continuing their journey north by land.
The journey is a difficult one as most Latin American countries require that Cubans have visas before entering, which results in many Cubans having to rely on traffickers and other illegal means.
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