Thu, 07 Jul 2022

by Yosley Carrero

HAVANA, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Cuban journalist Ibis Frade has been waiting for more than two years for a U.S. entry visa to be granted to her by the U.S. embassy in Havana.

The 33-year-old, who had been working as a United Nations correspondent for Cuba's Prensa Latina news agency since November 2017, came to the Caribbean nation for a month-long vacation in December 2019. Yet she has been unable to return for work at the UN headquarters in New York as she has not received any response concerning her visa application.

"I have not even been notified of visa denial," she said. "I have only received silence as a response. This is part of the inhuman U.S. unilateral policy towards the island."

It comes amid the tightening of the U.S.-led economic and commercial embargo against Cuba during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frade's colleague, Deisys Francis, 57, has gone through the same process of U.S. visa delay.

"I have spent two years applying for a visa to work as a Washington correspondent," she said. "We are amid the uncertainty provoked by this unpleasant situation as we do not receive a clear explanation from the U.S. government."

In 2017, the United States accused Cuba of carrying out "acoustic attacks" against U.S. diplomatic personnel there, alleging some suffered from impaired hearing and other ailments, known as the "Havana Syndrome." In defense of its claim, Washington then cut its embassy staff, hampering the process of visa issuance.

However in January this year, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency admitted that most cases of the Havana Syndrome may have been caused by environmental factors, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress, citing its report findings.

Earlier in March, the U.S. embassy in Havana announced a gradual increase in staffing and resumption of consular services. In May, visa processing was resumed for the first time in more than four years.

Luisa Maria Gonzalez, deputy president of Prensa Latina, told Xinhua that the U.S. delay in visa issuance not only affects work at the Cuban media but also its Latin American audience.

"As a UN host country, the United States is not fulfilling its duties to help the work of media organizations," she said. "We have been waiting for so long."

Founded in 1959, Prensa Latina has some 40 offices across the world and a Havana-based multimedia center with the capacity to process 400 dispatches in six different languages daily.

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