During yesterday's Daily Press Briefing, the State Department was asked about a potential U.S. visa for the Cuban dictator's daughter, Mariela Castro.
QUESTION: Did the U.S. grant a visa to Mariela Castro Espin, daughter of Raul Castro? Were certain laws waived that prevent officials of the Cuban Government from receiving visas?
ANSWER: We do not discuss specific details of individual visa cases; visa records are confidential under U.S. law. The rules and procedures for adjudicating visa applications are established under U.S. law and Department regulations. Each visa request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. There is no blanket ban on issuing visas to Cuban Government officials.
According to the State Department's own Bureau of Consular Affairs, among the Presidential Proclamations "which currently affect the issuance of U.S. visas are" Presidential Proclamation 5377, which states:
Section 1. Entry of the following classes of Cuban nationals as nonimmigrants is hereby suspended: (a) officers or employees of the Government of Cuba or the Communist Party of Cuba holding diplomatic or official passports; and (b) individuals who, notwithstanding the type of passport that they hold, are considered by the Secretary of State or his designee to be officers or employees of the Government of Cuba or the Communist Party of Cuba.
Sec. 2. The suspension of entry as nonimmigrants set forth in Section 1 shall not apply to officers or employees of the Government of Cuba or the Communist Party of Cuba: (a) entering for the exclusive purpose of conducting official business at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington; at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations in New York; or at the United Nations in New York when, in the judgment of the Secretary of State or his designee, entry for such purpose is required by the United Nations Headquarters Agreement; (b) in the case of experts on a mission of the United Nations and in the case of individuals coming to the United States on official United Nations business as representatives of nongovernmental organizations when, in the judgment of the Secretary of State or his designee, entry for such purpose is required by the United Nations Headquarters Agreement; or (c) in such other cases or categories of cases as may be designated from time to time by the Secretary of State or his designee.
Thus, for the Cuban dictator's daughter and prominent Communist Party member, Mariela Castro, to be given a U.S. visa to deliver policy speeches in New York and San Francisco, the Secretary of State must provide an exemption under Section 2(c).
But it is hard to imagine why the State Department would favor one of the most vocal defenders of the Castro family dictatorship, who has justified its repressive policies and refers to peaceful pro-democracy activists as "despicable parasites."
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