HAVANA – The U.S. deputy secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, met in Havana with Cuba’s new Interior Minister Carlos Fernandez, with whom he discussed bilateral cooperation to provide greater security for the citizens of both countries, the official Cuban press reported Thursday.
Mayorkas, the highest-ranking Cuban-American official in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, came to the island last Tuesday and spoke Wednesday with the Cuban minister in a “constructive and respectful atmosphere,” according to the statement published in the daily Granma.
The meeting was one of the first official acts of Cuba’s new interior minister, whose appointment was announced last Monday and who was designated for the position following the resignation of his predecessor, Abelardo Colome, one of the “historical” figures of the Castro government and the Cuban Revolution.
“During the meeting there was agreement about the need to do something concrete in terms of bilateral cooperation, with the goal of providing greater security for citizens of both countries and other nations,” the text said.
This “high level” visit formed part of the “effort of the Cuban and United States governments to make progress in the process of normalizing bilateral relations.”
Mayorkas was accompanied by Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency that facilitates legal trade and travel, along with “other high-ranking officials of the United States Department of Homeland Security,” the note said.
Born in Havana, Alejandro Mayorkas emigrated to the United States together with his family in 1960, lived in Miami, Florida, before moving to California, and in 1973 became a U.S. citizen.
Mayorkas’ visit to Cuba coincides with that of Todd Stern, the U.S. special envoy for climate change who arrived in Cuba to exchange points of view on the subject in preparation for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21), planned for next December in Paris.