Posted: 12:21 am EDT
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Secretary Kerry will be on a historic trip to Havana this Friday where he will preside over the ceremonial reopening of the U.S. Embassy there. At a State Department background briefing, a senior administration official gave a quick rundown of the secretary’s events in Havana:
The opening ceremony, which is the flag-raising ceremony at the embassy, is principally a government-to-government event. It’ll include officials from the Cuban Government, a range of U.S. Government agencies, as well as members of Congress. There will be some U.S. and Cuban private citizens there, but it is primarily a government-to-government event, and it is extremely constrained in space. If you’ve ever been to our embassy, you know what the – I was somewhat amused to see it described as our front lawn, because it’s a very constrained space. But it is principally a government-to-government event, signifying this new relationship and the reopening of an embassy.
Later in the day, we are having a large event at the chief of mission’s residence, which is also a diplomatic installation, in which a broad range of groups will be invited, including the Cuban Government, Cuban Americans, Cuban artists and cultural leaders, the Diplomatic Corps, entrepreneurs, and Cuban political human rights and media activists.
On the issues of the Secretary’s delegation, let me say that I think, for example, one of the things that is most important to us is to make sure that our colleagues at the Treasury Department and the Commerce Department are recognized for their work in the change in policy, so there will be senior representatives from both those departments on the Secretary’s delegation. The regulations that were put in place after the President’s December 17th announcement were Treasury and Commerce regulations, and so it’s particularly important to us that those departments be represented by senior members. Obviously, we’ve long had colleagues from the Department of Homeland Security involved in our relationship with Cuba as part of our migration talk because they work on – for example, the Coast Guard has had a relationship with Cuba for a number of years now, a very productive operational relationship. So I think that it is those kinds of other agencies that will be part of this delegation.
Here’s a couple of interesting pieces on the road to this day:
Inside the crazy backchannel negotiations that revolutionized our relationship with Cuba http://t.co/AFcQEgjlVi pic.twitter.com/P5W8uQq0RW
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) August 12, 2015
WaPo: Obama kept Kerry and the State Dept in the dark on secret Cuba talks until they were well underway https://t.co/YOoSKMdqMz
— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) August 5, 2015
The State Department says that this visit is the first by a Secretary of State in 60 years. Or perhaps 70 years?
.@StateDept historian- @HistoryAtState – last SoS to visit #Cuba was Stettinius in 1945. http://t.co/j479nj8Y3P https://t.co/zmkcktQ0ly
— Matt Lee (@APDiploWriter) August 12, 2015
The U.S. Delegation, who’s in and who’s not?
I don’t see any huge surprises in the US delegation to Havana to formally reopen the US embassy there… pic.twitter.com/645zUPPZMb
— Olivier Knox (@OKnox) August 12, 2015
@OKnox Aye, but no @rhodes44 or Ricardo Zuniga, who both made it happen.
— Andrew Beatty (@AndrewBeatty) August 12, 2015
Thrilled to present Samuel Nelson Drew Memorial Award to Ricardo Zuniga, an architect of our new approach to #Cuba.
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) June 5, 2015
He’s not part of the official delegation but let’s give a shoutout 📣 to career diplomat Ricardo Zuniga!
In May, 2015, Mr. Zuniga completed a three-year detail with the National Security Council Staff, where he served as a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Last month, he assumed charged as Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
- Who is Ricardo Zuniga, the man who helped broker the White House deal with Cuba?
- Honduran Named White House Advisor on Latin America
- Meet Ricardo Zuniga, the U.S. diplomat who negotiated with Cuba
Here is the coolest bit about this whole affair: Major kudos to those who planned this ceremony and thought to include these men.
Great read, however, this ‘cart before the horse’ approach on Cuba, as is the case with Iran, Syria, and the many other foreign policy adventures of this administration, will never work. When U.S. interests take a back seat to personal politics and legacy building, history shows bad things are sure to follow. The Cuban Communists tricked Jimmy Carter in 1977. They’ve not changed a stripe since. If anything, the Communist Party is more entrenched and ready for consolidation.