- airlines - counter-terrorism - Cuba - USA
Cuba formally protests new US screening measures
Cuba has lodged a formal protest against new US rules tightening security checks for airline passengers traveling from or through Cuba and 13 other countries designated by the US as state sponsors of terrorism.
AFP - Cuba lodged a formal protest Tuesday against new US rules tightening security checks for airline passengers traveling from or through Cuba and 13 other countries.
Cuba's foreign ministry said it summoned Jonathan Farrar, who heads the US Interest Section at the Swiss embassy in Havana, to hand him the objections.
"We categorically reject this new hostile action by the government of the United States that stems from the unfair inclusion of Cuba in the so-called list of countries supporting terrorism," the message said.
Cuba's official newspaper Granma criticized the new US rules Monday as emanating from "anti-terrorist paranoia."
The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said the new measures would include random "enhanced" checks on all international passengers flying into US airports, as well as compulsory stricter screenings of those coming from or via 14 countries. All but Cuba are Muslim-majority nations.
The countries targeted by the new measures include Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria, all US-designated state sponsors of terrorism. They also apply to passengers traveling from or via Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria.
There are no regular flights between Cuba and the United States, but four daily charter flights connect Havana with three US cities, including Miami, where more than one million Cuban exiles and immigrants reside.
The charter flights were increased to eight per day in late December, after US President Barack Obama earlier lifted some travel and remittance restrictions to Cuba.
Washington broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 and imposed an economic boycott on the communist island.
Both governments recently resumed negotiations on migration and postal exchange issues, but efforts to end the boycott are stymied by US insistence that Cuba should change its policies, while Havana suggests the United States do the same.