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Obama Nominates First Cuban Ambassador In 50 Years

U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle stand with U.S. ambassador to Cuba, Jeffrey DeLaurentis (L), as they meet with embassy staff in a hotel in Havana March 20, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTSBDKQ

President Barack Obama kept his word and nominated Jeffrey DeLaurentis to be the first ambassador to Cuba in over 50 years. DeLaurentis is currently the head of the mission to Cuba so he’s been dealing with the Cuban government for years. When Obama and Cuban president Raul Castro began negotiating reopening relations one of the main goals was to get an ambassador to Cuba. Obama said,

“Having an ambassador will make it easier to advocate for our interests, and will deepen our understanding even when we know that we will continue to have differences with the Cuban government. He is exactly the type of person we want to represent the United States in Cuba, and we only hurt ourselves by not being represented by an Ambassador. If confirmed by the Senate, I know Jeff will build on the changes he helped bring about to better support the Cuban people and advance America’s interests.”

Of course, he has to be confirmed by congress and there is where it gets hairy. Several Republican senators, most notably the Cuban-Americans like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, have vowed to block the appointment of any ambassador to Cuba. I highly doubt that they will decide one way or another before the election. They are the kings of stalling, those Cuban senators. The question will come with who becomes the new president. Clinton will surely press forward with the changes in Cuban policy while Trump has said contradictory things. It will also depend on who wins the senate and the house. In other words, this isn’t getting resolved any time soon.

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