Cuba says US visa change impedes family visits

HAVANA (AFP) – Havana accused Washington last Saturday of creating obstacles to United States (US) travel by Cubans by reducing the duration of its tourist visas from five years to three months.

The US, which announced the change last Friday, said it was matching the island’s own visa rules for US visitors.

The so-called B-2 tourist visa allowed Cubans multiple entries to the US for periods up to five years. As of today, they will be eligible only for three-month, single-entry tourist visas.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry issued a statement objecting to the change, saying “it increases the obstacles for family and other visits.”

The statement added, “If the US really wants to apply reciprocity, it should immediately open its consulate in Havana, and resume the process of issuing visas, which it arbitrarily and unjustifiably interrupted more than a year ago, and eliminate the prohibition on US citizens traveling freely to Cuba.”

US relations with Cuba, which were restored under former US President Barack Obama, have soured under his successor Donald Trump.

The US evacuated diplomatic staff and their families in 2017 after at least two dozen people suffered brain injuries that resembled concussion, but with no exterior signs of trauma.

The US accused Cuba of carrying out “health attacks” using some sort of acoustic or microwave device, a charge Havana angrily rejected.

Cuba insisted the US move was “politically motivated”.