Ben Rhodes heads to Havana to sign law enforcement agreement

70b7f5164c93edf2dd771e3c44798439HAVANA, Jan. 16th White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes is headed to Cuba to finalize an agreement governing joint law enforcement effortsbetween the U.S. and Cuba,  the Obama administration announced Monday.

Rhodes will meet with Cuban officials on Monday to discuss “the arrangement of a framework for strengthening our partnership on counternarcotics, counterterrorism, legal cooperation, and money laundering, including technical exchanges that contribute to a strong U.S.-Cuba law enforcement relationship,” White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Cuba, though, has a long history of being on the wrong end of the law. The meeting comes less than two years after Cuba was removed from the State Department’s list of “state sponsors of terrorism.” Around the same time, the Cuban government was caught trafficking illegal weapons on a North Korean vessel. The Obama administration sanctioned two North Korean companies in response while declining to take action against the Castro regime.

Rhodes’ trip to Cuba follows last week’s announcement by the Department of Homeland Security that the agency had repealed the so-called “wet foot dry foot” policy that for two decades has allowed Cuban migrants to remain in the U.S. and apply for permanent residency after fleeing their homeland. The Obama administration billed the policy change as a natural step in helping the Cuban people “achieve a better future for themselves and to advance the interests of the United States.”

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“The aim here is to treat Cuban migrants in a manner consistent to migrants who come here from other countries … equalizing our immigration policies … as part of the overall normalization process with Cuba,” DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson told reporters on a call last week.

Rhodes’ trip to Cuba in the waning days of Obama’s presidency is likely the last he will make as deputy national security adviser. He is expected to deliver his final remarks on Obama’s foreign policy and public diplomacy record at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday.