American academics briefed on existing US-Cuba cooperation

Organized crime, trafficking and drugs are main topic of conversation


HAVANA – The Cuban government briefed a group of American academics on ongoing bilateral cooperation between both countries despite current icy relations. 

Tuesday’s meeting focused on narcotic interdiction, terrorism, human trafficking, cyber security and money laundering. 

The group of academics traveled to Cuba on behalf of Washington Office of Latin America (WOLA), a non-governmental organization that does research and advocacy and whose goal is to advance human rights in the Americas. 

We had a conversation about the main results from the bilateral cooperation that exists between Cuba and the United States when it comes to security, said Lt. Col. Ernesto Perez de Cardenas, head of International Cooperation for Cuba’s Ministry of Interior. 

Perez de Cardenas points out cooperation goes back decades, including a long term relationship between the U.S. and Cuban Coast Guards. 

“We can’t go back, instead we must maintain,” Perez de Cardenas said of the relationship. “Cuba is willing not only to conserve but deepen these links to the United States.”

“We’ve seen real progress in this area over the years and we have concerns that in this administration that may get stalled or set back, which would be problematic for both our mutual interests,” said WOLA Vice President of Programs Geoff Thale. 

Despite political differences, Thale said both countries should move forward. 

Johana Tablada, who is assistant director of the U.S. Section at the Ministry of Foreign Relations, wanted to point out law enforcement cooperation between both countries grew when relations were re-established. 

During the meeting, the Cuban government made it a point to show results not just when the relationship was in a better state, but recent incidents of cooperation as the relationship between both countries has deteriorated, Tablada said. 

She added: “It’s still not completely exploited to the maximum potential but we are satisfied of what has been accomplished.”

This is the fifth time such a meeting is held. 

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