Cuba blasted the U.S. over a wide range of issues, including the rise in the migration of Cubans to the U.S., and accused the U.S. of excluding the island from the Summit of the Americas during a news conference in Havana.
Bruno Rodrguez, Cuba's foreign minister, called for U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to say in an honest way if Cuba will be invited to the ninth Summit of the Americas. A State Department spokeswoman said no invitations have been issued from the White House at this time. NBC News has asked the department for comment on the other allegations that Rodr guez made during the news conference.
In June, the Summit of the Americas will be held in Los Angeles. Cuba participated in the last summit in 2018 and one in 2015, but was not invited to prior meetings.
The number of Cubans coming through the U.S. border has soared after the U.S. and Cuba held migration talks in Washington, D.C. last week. Nearly 80,000 Cubans were arrested at the border between October and April, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The highest level of talks between the two countries occurred last week, which was the highest level of talks between the two countries in over four years. Rodrguez said the talks were a positive sign. He said that the U.S. tightens the embargo and restricts migration are also reasons for his calling the U.S. policy toward Cuba incoherent and contradictory. The U.S. reduced the number of employees at the Havana embassy after mysterious health incidents, and stopped processing visas there. Cubans had to travel to Guyana or other countries to have visas processed, which is costly for the average Cuban. The U.S. has not issued the 20,000 annual migrant visas it committed to following the 1994 migrant accords. Rodrguez said this is one of the main reasons for the spike in Cubans leaving the island for the U.S.
He said that the U.S. offers financial incentives to countries near the U.S. border to decrease the flow of migrants, with Cuba, but the recipe is the extreme strengthening of the embargo.
Rodrguez accused the U.S. of hampering Cuba's response to the pandemic after then-President Donald Trump tightened the screws on the embargo. The administration has largely kept Trump's policies in place, but recently the administration announced that it would increase staffing in the embassy to process a limited amount of visas.
Carmen Sesin reported from Miami and Orlando Matos reported from Havana, Cuba.