Cuba is making headway to normalize ties with its diaspora living in the United States, the country's deputy foreign minister said Saturday, with moves on immigration reform expected in coming months.
"Much has been achieved" towards normalizing relations with US-based Cubans, Dagoberto Rodriguez said from Havana during a video teleconference with immigrants in Washington organized by the Cuban Foreign Ministry.
He called for a "respectful exchange of ideas" on "how we can continue to build... this dialogue."
Rodriguez said the government of President Raul Castro aimed to tackle migration reform to "eliminate unnecessary prohibitions" on Cubans wishing to travel abroad.
Last year, some 400,000 people -- 100,000 more than the year before -- traveled to Cuba to visit relatives, work on cultural projects or for business and academic purposes, according to the senior diplomat.
Cuban migration rights were in the spotlight this week after two actors featured in an award-winning film about Cuban boat people themselves went missing in Florida on their way to New York to promote the film.
Since 1966, Cubans have been granted automatic residence if they make it to the United States from the communist-ruled island, and thousands attempt the voyage each year, while others simply refuse to return if they reach the United States on a short visit.
National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon said earlier this month that Havana planned to remove many of the restrictions that have prevented its citizens from traveling abroad.
To travel abroad legally, Cubans need a permit that is valid for 30 days. It can be extended 10 times, after which they must return to Cuba or lose the right to reside in their own country.© ANP/AFP