Cuban columnist says bribes get U.S. visas, American diplomats say not true
July 1, 2013 -- Updated 0110 GMT (0910 HKT)
- A Cuban newspaper columnist says U.S. visas can be had for money
- But the columnist offers no details of alleged payments
- U.S. diplomats challenge the claim
- They say the application process has sped up, that they don't promote illegal travel
Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- A columnist in Cuba's main government-run newspaper Friday accused employees of the United States diplomatic mission in Havana of accepting bribes for visas, charges that American diplomats challenged.
The columnist, Nestor Garcia Iturbide, wrote in the state-run Granma that U.S. consular officials were in the "business of denying visas" to promote dangerous and illegal travel as well as a side business selling visas.
According to Garcia Iturbide, "to receive the visas some people pay off officials" during secret meetings arranged outside the U.S. Interest Section in Havana, but he offered no details of the alleged payments.
U.S. officials countered they have sped up the application process and don't promote illegal travel.
More Americans are visiting Cuba
"The United States supports safe, legal, and orderly migration, and encourages intending immigrants to consider the legal options that may be available to them instead of risking a dangerous and illegal trip via raft or other route," U.S. diplomats said in statement issued Friday.
The statement said that U.S. officials take allegations of corruption seriously and urged anyone with information about alleged visa payoffs to report it to U.S. authorities in Havana.
Under migration accords with Cuba, the United States gives at least 20,000 Cubans a year visas to immigrate to the U.S. legally. But the U.S.'s so-called "wet foot, dry foot" policy means Cubans who reach U.S. soil are not sent back to Cuba, which Cuban authorities say leads to an increase in illegal journeys.
Thousands of Cubans also apply for tourist visas to the United States but have to prove that they have long-standing ties on the island that would prevent them from remaining in the United States.
In February, Cuba removed a long-standing requirement that forced Cubans to have an exit visa before they could travel abroad.
Part of complete coverage on
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0626 GMT (1426 HKT)
A year ago, 1,000 garment workers died in the collapse of Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh. Here's a look at what has changed since then.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0453 GMT (1253 HKT)
Focus is on the fish as U.S. President starts tour with visit to legendary Tokyo restaurant.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Fireworks are fantastic and human endeavor has its place, but sometimes Mother Nature outshines any performance we can produce.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0306 GMT (1106 HKT)
In 1987, China sent its very first email. Here's what it said,
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0213 GMT (1013 HKT)
The world's new fastest elevator will fling you from earth to the 95th floor before you're done reading this article.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
In one U.S. state, a new bill will allow ordinary citizens to carry guns in all sorts of places. Does it make you feel safer?
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1410 GMT (2210 HKT)
In South Korea, volunteer divers are risking their lives to rescue victims of the sunken ferry.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Park Jee Young, 22, helped passengers escape as the Sewol ferry sank -- giving out life jackets while refusing to wear one herself.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1643 GMT (0043 HKT)
What did outgoing manager David Moyes get wrong in his six months with English Premier League football team Manchester United?
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1736 GMT (0136 HKT)
In honor of Shakespeare's birthday, here are 15 of the world's most amazing theaters.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
CNN exclusive: Australian officials are hammering out a new agreement for widening the Flight 370 search area.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
Malaysian officials sent to brief Chinese families are armed with little to no information.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1545 GMT (2345 HKT)
When a team of Indian surgeons opened up the stomach of a 63-year-old man, they had no idea they'd extract a fortune.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 0701 GMT (1501 HKT)
Do these photos CNN of gun-toting men wearing green uniforms prove Russian forces are in eastern Ukraine?
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1711 GMT (0111 HKT)
If the Duchess wears it, then your fashion career is sorted for life.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
Today's five most popular stories