During the meeting this week in Merida of the presidents of Mexico and Cuba, Enrique Peña Nieto and Raul Castro, the signing of new mechanisms of cooperation in trade and tourism are expected as well as a new memo of understanding on immigration.
This was revealed to the Mexican newspaper El Universal in an interview with Socorro Flores Liera, Mexico’s Undersecretary for Latin America and the Caribbean in the Foreign Ministry.
The meeting between the two presidents is set for Nov. 5-7 at various locations in Merida, including several hotels in the northern part of the city.
Flores said the memorandum of understanding on migration “aims at ensuring a legal, safe and orderly flow, by facilitating the entry of nationals traveling between the two countries and following the updating of the Cuban migration legislation”.
The interview did not mention whether the new pact will cover the increasing migration of undocumented Cubans to the United States through Mexico (more than 7,000 so far this year) and their possible repatriation to the island.
A previous memorandum, signed in October 2008, tried to regulate repatriations, but in recent years negotiations with the consulate of Cuba for Cuban citizens to be recognized as so-called “boat people on foot” have gone unanswered, so Mexican authorities detain them briefly and give them safe passage to leave the country.
Recently, the flood of Cubans has outstripped the capacity of the facilities of the National Migration Institute of Mexico.
Asked about the points of friction that cooled the bilateral relationship, including a more critical position on the Mexican government of Vicente Fox and Ernesto Zesillo on Human Rights in Cuba, Flores declined to refer to the past and said “today what has to be talked about is the good level of bilateral relations”, relaunched in 2013.
The diplomat said that the issue of human rights is not out of the bilateral dialogue, but must be dealt with “in the framework of respect”.
She explained that they are now focused “on issues to be addressed during the visit,” of Raul Castro, his first as president of Cuba to Mexico. Peña Nieto visited Havana in January 2014.
She said that Castro’s visit to Mexico is expected to lead to establishing mechanisms to deepen the relationship in areas such as trade, diplomatic, academic and tourism issues.
“There is enormous interest of Mexican entrepreneurs to strengthen their trade links with Cuba” and that “will be on the agenda,” said the official.
In the commercial economic sphere, she said that there are 30 investment projects under consideration by the Cuban authorities, and two Mexican companies are already allowed to settle in the special area of Mariel.
Flores said Merida will host the meeting “because both nations considered it an historic, symbolic and intimate place.”
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