Cuba accuses US of unfairly denying diplomatic visas

By Hatzel Vela - Cuba Correspondent

HAVANA - In the latest back-and-forth between the U.S. and Cuba, the government of the communist island is accusing the U.S. State Department of purposely trying to affect diplomatic relations by denying visas to its diplomatic staff. 

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 Cuban government said in a statement. 

The Cuban government provided data they claim proves their point.

The Cuban government alleges that since September 2017 the U.S. government has only granted 26 visas and denied six visas to Cuban staff, who they said are required at the Cuban embassy in Washington, D.C.

"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," the statement added. 

In October 2017, the U.S. government expelled 15 Cuban diplomats after it reduced its own staffing in Havana as a response to the alleged health attacks American embassy workers suffered. 

Thursday afternoon, the State Department weighed in on the accusations. 

A spokesperson said the Cuban government is aware of the U.S. concerns about visas and staffing at the American Embassy in Havana. 

"The Cuban government has failed to issue visas to U.S. diplomats in a timely and consistent manner," a State Department spokesperson said in the statement. "Both governments maintain the sovereign right to issue or deny visas to specific individuals."
 

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