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Cablegate: Mexico-Cuba Talks Produce Little Movement On

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RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #1839/01 1682200
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 162200Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2248
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0135
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 001839

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM SMIG KCRM CU MX
SUBJECT: MEXICO-CUBA TALKS PRODUCE LITTLE MOVEMENT ON
REPATRIATIONS

1. Mexican and Cuban officials met in April to discuss
building cooperation on migration issues including combating
criminal trafficking rings, resolving an impasse over
repatriations, and facilitating the emission of migration
documentation. The Foreign Ministry's (SRE) Deputy Director
for the Office of South America Victor Arriaga told poloffs
that the two sides hoped to sign a migration agreement
addressing these matters when Cuba's visited Mexico in
September. He conceded, however, the GOM would be
hard-pressed to forge progress on repatriations as the GOC
remained resistant to repatriating Cubans who had entered
through a third country. End Summary.

2. Cuba's delegation was headed by Ambassador Carlos Zamora
Rodr!guez, Director of Foreign Ministry's Office of Consular
Affairs and Cubans Residing Abroad. Zamora was apparently
accompanied by legal, migration, and intelligence experts.
The Mexican delegation was headed by Minister Daniel
Hern ndez Joseph, General Director of the Foreign Ministry's
Office of Protection and Consular Affairs. He was
accompanied by representatives from the Attorney General's
Office (PGR), the Interior Ministry (SEGOB), Communications
and Transportation Ministry (SCT) and the Navy (SEMAR). The
meeting was held within the framework of the Working Group on
Migration and Consular Affairs which had not convened since
2001.

3. According to SRE's Arriaga, the meeting centered on three
issues:

-- Combating trafficking rings: An increasing number of
Cubans seek to transit Mexico as a conduit to enter the U.S.
Frequently they rely on organized crime networks. SRE's
Evith Robledo from the Office of North America made a point
of stressing that the two sides also touched upon these
groups' involvement in TIP particularly in the context of
Mexico's new anti-TIP law. Arriaga remarked that the two
sides' law enforcement and intelligence experts engaged on
how they might better coordinate investigative efforts.

-- Repatriations: According to Arriaga, approximately 20
percent of the Cubans who enter the U.S. from Mexico entered
Mexico with legal documentation; the balance, then, enter
without documentation. Mexico would like to repatriate all
Cubans it detains without documentation regardless of whether
they enter Mexico directly or via a third country. He
remarked that they are a drain on resources while held under
detention. Historically, however, Cuba has accepted a
relatively small percentage Q) 4-5 percent of those detained
-- refusing to take back those who entered Mexico from a
third country such as Guatemala. Arriaga lamented that the
Cubans did not move on this issue during their April meeting.
He was not optimistic about the Cubans changing their tact
between now and September.

Even if a migration accord is finalized, most Cubans entering
Mexico for the purpose of transiting through to the U.S. will
continue to make their way north. Undocumented travelers can
be held for no longer than 30 days. While, on occasion,
Mexico has held undocumented Cubans for longer periods
waiting for a GOC response to GOM repatriation requests,
Cuban migrants denied repatriation are given a "multa" (fine)
which requires them to pay a fee of 5,000 pesos (about $500).
Upon payment, they are presented with an official exit
document called an "oficio de salida" which allows them 30
days to leave Mexican soil. The Cuban migrants are then free
to continue their journey north to the United States. Many
Cubans who enter Mexico via Central America are quite
familiar with this process and upon encountering INM,
immediately request their "oficio de salida." Those who
expect to be repatriated request a legal review Q) an
"amparo" -- of their case as a delaying tactic. (Post
comment: A new law, pending President Calderon's signature,
de-criminalizes undocumented arrivals in Mexico. We will be
examining to see what impact this has on transit through
Mexico of all third country nationals.)

Arriaga described the sweeping majority of Cubans detained by
INM as "economic migrants" who seek ultimately to enter the
U.S. for economic reasons. He said that very few claim to
suffer or have a fear of political persecution. He assured
poloffs such claims are thoroughly investigated and
maintained that many of those who make these claims rely on

MEXICO 00001839 002 OF 002


U.S. lawyers for legal counsel.

-- Travel documentation: Arriaga stressed the need to
improve the issuance of travel documents to facilitate
economic commerce between the two countries. According to
Arriaga, the system is beset with administrative delays due
the GOC's reliance on antiquated technology. In view of
rising levels of trade, Mexico was keen on Cuba doing more to
address this issue.

Next Steps

4. Arriaga told poloffs the working group would next convene
in Havana in July with Mexico sending a select team of
officials representing the ministries that attended the April
meeting. Both sides aim to have an agreement ready on
migration issues for their ministers to sign when the Cuban
Foreign Minister visits Mexico for a meeting scheduled for
September 11.

5. Comment: Mexico regards Cubans using its country as a
springboard to enter the U.S. as an irritant in its relations
with the U.S. and Cuba. Unfortunately, Arriaga was not
optimistic about convincing the Cuban government to take back
Cubans who have entered Mexico illegally from a third
country. Cuba seeks warmer relations with Mexico but likely
is not keen to embrace the economic burden of repatriating
the thousands of Cubans entering Mexico would represent.
Notwithstanding the impasse over repatriation, the SRE
signaled it was hope the sides would come to an understanding
on enough issues to sign an agreement come September when the
Cuban Foreign Minister visits.
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

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