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New Cuba-U.S. migration talks set for Monday

HAVANA, Cuba (Reuters) -- Senior Cuban and U.S. officials will meet in Havana next week for a day of talks on the thorny issue of illegal migration from the communist-ruled Caribbean island, authorities said on Thursday.

A statement from Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon, also Havana's point man on U.S. affairs, said the latest talks, the highest-level regular contact between the politically estranged nations, would be on Monday.

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The talks have been taking place for five years to monitor the implementation of migration accords intended to stem the uncontrolled flow of Cuban "boat people" to the United States, such as during the so-called "Raft Crisis" of 1994.

The last talks, in New York in September, came after the end of the saga over shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez, a 7-year-old boy picked up at sea off Florida. Following a seven-month custody dispute, Elian returned home to Cuba on June 28.

Havana blames U.S. migration policy for the problem, saying the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, which gives privileged treatment to Cubans seeking U.S. residence, is the reason people keep making the perilous trip to Florida.

U.S. officials say Cubans want to leave because they are dissatisfied with the economic failings and authoritarian political system of President Fidel Castro. They also accuse Havana of rigidly restricting legal exits from the island.

After the previous round of talks, Cuba said "absolutely nothing" had been achieved.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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RELATED SITES:
Cubaweb
U.S. State Department
  • Information on Cuba
  • Cuban Adjustment Act Fact Sheet
I.N.S. Information for Cuban Immingrants
Amnesty International
  • 1999 Report on Cuba


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