Cuban officials, exiles talk via video


By Andrea Rodriguez, AP

HAVANA — Cuban officials reached out to U.S. exiles on Saturday with a videoconference between Havana and Washington, promising a highly anticipated migratory reform, but cautioning that not all may not be satisfied by its scope.

More than 100 Cuban-Americans and top Foreign Ministry officials discussed President Raul Castro’s ongoing economic changes in the encounter, hosted by Vice Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodriguez.

“There has been great advance in this process of normalizing relations” with the Cuban diaspora, Rodriguez said.

Amid the economic reforms and liberalized travel rules instituted by President Barack Obama, Cuba has increasingly sought to dialogue with segments of its large exile community, with several high-profile encounters recently.

Many exiles say they want nothing to do with government leaders in their homeland until Raul and Fidel Castro are out of power, but others are looking to play a role in the changes the island is undergoing. Exit Visa Hot Topic A popular topic during Saturday’s videoconference between the Foreign Ministry in Havana and the Cuban Interests Section in Washington was a much-anticipated reform of migratory rules that, among other things, require Cubans to apply for an exit visa. Cuban-Americans also questioned the officials about regulations that strip those who leave permanently of the right to own property back home, and bar them from investing or accessing Cuba’s recently legalized real estate market, which is currently only available to island residents.

Emigrants are treated as second-class citizens, complained a man who identified himself as Julio Ruiz of Miami.

Rodriguez said reforms being studied will take into account the realities of 50 years of emigration and make an “important contribution” to bringing Cubans everywhere closer together. But he also cautioned people not to expect too much.