During the past few months, the U.S. State Department has been concocting a new pretext to affect bilateral diplomatic relations, associated to the granting of the diplomatic and official visas required by the staff of the respective embassies in Washington and Havana to perform their duties. The maneuver consists of claiming that Cuba is hindering the granting of visas for designated officials at the U.S. embassy in Cuba, which allegedly hinders the work of that diplomatic mission.
In doing so, the State Department deliberately conceals the fact that it was the U.S. government that unilaterally decided to downsize its staff in Havana in September, 2017, including particularly the staff in charge of consular services, with the consequent encumbrance for Cuban and U.S. citizens who depend on those services. The U.S. government decided to arbitrarily and unjustly expel 15 Cuban diplomatic officials from the Cuban embassy in Washington in October of that same year.
Since that date, the work of both diplomatic missions has been affected by these unilateral decisions. Likewise, the granting of the visas required by the staff of the respective embassies has been subject to whimsical approvals and delays by the State Department.
The data speaks for themselves. Since the end of September, 2017, the U.S. government has only granted 26 visas and denied 6 for the staff required by Cuba at its embassy in Washington. During that same period, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba has granted 105 visas for the temporary and permanent diplomatic and administrative staff of the U.S. embassy in Havana, and has only denied one in reciprocity for the actions taken by the State Department. This is clearly unbalanced behavior which goes against the standards of reciprocity that are considered an essential practice in diplomatic relations.
To accuse Cuba of creating an unsustainable situation for the work of the U.S. embassy is a flagrant distortion of the truth. The Cuban government is not responsible for the instability and irregularity generated unilaterally by the U.S. government that affects the work of the diplomatic missions of both countries in the respective capitals.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still willing to meet the requirements of both parties for the functioning of the respective embassies on the basis of reciprocity.