Governments of countries affected by the irregular emigration of Cubans to the United States reacted positively to the agreement reached between the two countries, which aims to ensure regular, safe and orderly migration of Cuban citizens, and includes the elimination of the parole program for Cuban medical professionals and “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy, first implemented by the Clinton administration in 1995, and maintained for over 20 years by successive U.S. governments.
Javier Carrillo, head of Panama’s National Migration Service, stated that the decision will discourage the irregular entry of Cubans to Panama traveling from Ecuador to the United States, because they no longer have the “privilege” of legally residing in the U.S., stated Carrillo.
He added that the Panamanian government will treat Cubans traveling through the country in the same way as all other undocumented migrants.
The government of Costa Rica announced its satisfaction regarding the change in the U.S. policy, since the regulations that were eliminated had contributed to illegal trafficking in persons in the region.
The Central American nation was one of those affected by irregular migration of Cubans attempting to reach the United States via land; motivated by the preferential treatment they received in that country up until January 12, 2017.
Meanwhile, Fred Mitchell, Foreign Minister of The Bahamas, noted that the migratory privileges enjoyed by Cubans for so many years contributed to an increase in citizens from that country making illegal sea crossings to the Bahamans. The Bahamian government expressed their hope that the agreement is continued under the Trump administration, reported the Jamaica Observer.
Ecuador, another transit country, also welcomed the elimination of the “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy. Taking to social media, Guillaume Long, the country’s Foreign Minister expressed on behalf of the nation, his satisfaction with the decision, which Ecuador and other countries had been “requesting since August 2016.”
Last year, the Foreign Ministers of Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Nicaragua – all countries affected by the irregular flow of Cubans to the United States – requested that Washington revise its migration policy toward the island.
At that time the Ecuadoran mission in Washington presented U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with a letter requesting a high-level meeting to analyze the migration of Cuban citizens to border countries with the U.S.
The ministers noted that the Cuban Adjustment Act and “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy constituted a stimulus for the disorderly, irregular, and unsafe flow of Cuban citizens who, risking their lives, travel through third countries with the aim of reaching any border point with the U.S.
Meanwhile, James Williams, leader of the Engage Cuba coalition which works to promote better relations between the two countries, described the announcement, in a statement, as a “logical, responsible, and important step toward further normalizing bilateral relations,” reported Prensa Latina.