On Wednesday, July 9, U.S. and Cuban officials met in Washington to discuss the implementation of the 1994 and 1995 U.S.-Cuba Migration Accords. These talks are held semi-annually. The U.S. delegation was led by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Alex Lee and the Cuban delegation was led by the Foreign Ministry’s Director General for U.S. Affairs, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro.
Under the Accords, both governments pledged to promote safe, legal, and orderly migration between Cuba and the United States. The agenda for the talks reflected longstanding U.S. priorities on U.S.-Cuba migration issues, as well as certain areas where cooperation is in the U.S. national interest, including aviation security, search and rescue at sea, and visa processing. The U.S. delegation also highlighted other areas of ongoing cooperation relevant to migration, including the exchange of information on the interdiction of undocumented migrants, and related issues.
The U.S. delegation reiterated its call for the release of Alan Gross, who was arrested by Cuban authorities on December 3, 2009, and later sentenced to 15 years in prison for facilitating uncensored internet contact between a small, religious community on the island and the rest of the world.