In final days, Obama administration signs law enforcement pact with Cuba
Gregory Korte , USA TODAY Published 7:16 p.m. ET Jan. 16, 2017 |
WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department signed a new agreement on law
enforcement cooperation with Cuba on Monday, seeking to further deepen
ties with the communist island just four days before the end of the
The agreement outlines U.S.-Cuban cooperation on a wide range of
criminal and security-related issues, including terrorism, narcotics,
cyber-security, immigration, money laundering, smuggling and human
Notably, the agreement did not include a return of U.S. fugitives that
Cuba has harbored, including New Jersey cop killers, Black Panther
hijackers and Puerto Rican terrorists. Cuba's continued protection of
those fugitives has been a major source of congressional opposition to
President Obama's Cuban policy.
The State Department had previously confirmed that the return of those
fugitives was part of the talks with Cuba, but State Department
officials did not return requests for comment Monday, a federal holiday
in the United States.
The agreement was signed by the de facto U.S. ambassador in
Havana, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, and the Cuban minister of the Interior,
Julio César Gandarilla. Also present: Deputy National Security Adviser
Ben Rhodes, the architect of Obama's policy restoring diplomatic ties to
Cuba in 2014 after a six-decade freeze.
The agreement comes just a few days after the Department of Homeland
Security announced that it has ended the two-decade-old "wet-foot/dry
foot" policy, meaning Cubans who safely reach U.S. soil will no longer
be granted legal status.
The two nations have signed more than a dozen other agreements over two
years on issues like health, medical research, agriculture,
environmental cooperation, marine protected areas, civil aviation, and
direct transportation of mail.
The explicit goal of all those agreements is to make it as difficult as
possible for the incoming Trump administration to unwind the Obama policy.
"I think what we were trying to do is to create as much momentum for the
policy so as to make it irreversible, to enlist as many stakeholders as
we could in the policy so as to make it irreversible," Rhodes told
reporters last month. "At the end of the day, we get eight years and
we'll be done on January 20th, and the new administration can make their
own decisions about whether they want to try to reverse aspects of our
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