Posted: 3:09 am EDT
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The United States established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba in 1902, opening the first U.S. Embassy in Havana in 1923. The Embassy was closed in 1961 when the United States severed diplomatic relations. During President Carter’s administration in 1977, the United States and Cuba signed an agreement establishing the U.S. Interests Section (USINT) in Havana, and the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC. Under the formal protection of the Embassy of Switzerland, USINT operated out of the former U.S. Embassy building, which first opened in 1953. On December 17, 2014, President Obama announced the intention to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. After six months of negotiations, the two nations officially renewed diplomatic relations on July 20, 2015, and USINT became U.S. Embassy Havana.
Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis (front row, right on couch) is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, and the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba. Prior to taking up this position in August 2014, Ambassador DeLaurentis served for three years as the Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Prior to that posting, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Scott Hamilton (front row, left on couch) is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who assumed his current position as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Havana on July 20, 2015.
ADST writes that one of the most daunting and stressful tasks a Foreign Service Officer abroad can face is supporting a visit by the President of the United States:
Concerns about security, cultural sensitivities, press coverage and political effectiveness turn such events into an all-encompassing, embassy-wide obsession from the day the idea of the visit is floated until “Wheels Up” when Air Force One departs. There’s plenty of drama, bruised egos, hurry-up-and-wait, and silliness in the planning and implementation of such a visit. The outcome can make or break a career. A mark of a great FSO is the ability to support a presidential visit while maintaining a sense of courtesy and good humor, especially when demands from everyone from the pre-advance team to the press pool verge on the ridiculous.
And what do you do when the White House press advance team is “as prickly as a hedgehog?” Click here and read more: What Goes on Behind the Scenes When POTUS Comes to Town.
President Obama arrived at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana on Sunday, March 20, 4:50 p.m and did a meet-and-greet at U.S. Embassy at 5:50 p.m.
Schedule for POTUS on Monday, March 21 (via usatoday):
• Wreath-laying and tour at the José Marti Memorial, 10:20 a.m.
• Official welcoming ceremony, Palace of the Revolution, 11 a.m.
• One-on-one meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro, 11:30 a.m.
• Expanded meeting between U.S. and Cuban officials, 1 p.m.
• Statements to the press by Presidents Obama and Castro, 1:50 p.m.
• Entrepreneurship summit, 3:45 p.m.
• State Dinner at the Palace of the Revolution, 7:25 p.m.
For Tuesday, March 22:
• Address to the Cuban people at El Gran Teatro de Havana, morning
• Meeting with dissidents and civil society leaders, morning
• Baseball have between the Tampa Bay Rays at Cuban National Team at Estadio Latinoamericano, 2 p.m.
• Departure from Jose Marti International Airport en route to Buenos Aires, Argentina, afternoon