14ymedio, Madrid, 8 February 2018—The Cuban government has finally granted approval to Philip Goldberg to head the US embassy in Havana, according to Reuters, which cites a US official as its source. Despite the deterioration in relations since the beginning of the presidency of Donald Trump, Cuba and the United States have opted to keep the diplomatic channels discreetly open.
Goldberg will assume the position of Chargé d’Affairs in a few days and, although his planned tenure is unknown, the US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that it is likely to be six months.
Neither the Cuban government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nor the US State Department were willing to give official responses to Reuters about the leak of the appointment.
Goldberg, 61, has long diplomatic experience serving in several countries and has been described by an adviser to the US Congress as “professional and the best of the best.”
The diplomat was the Chief of Mission for the United States in Kosovo and held several posts in the Balkan region before going to Bolivia as Ambassador in 2006 and serving as Ambassador to the Philippines in 2013, where he was the target of harsh verbal attacks from President Rodrigo Duterte.
The fact that he was expelled from Bolivia after being accused by President Evo Morales of “fomenting social discontent,” was envisaged as a possible stumbling block in Havana, but the Cuban government finally decided to give the green light to Goldberg’s appointment.
The new Chargée d’Affaires will arrive in Cuba at a complicated diplomatic time, after the withdrawal of a high percentage (approximately 60%) of the embassy staff in Havana for the alleged acoustic attacks that affected more than a score of officials and their families, as of the end of 2016.
The United States Government has not had an ambassador in Cuba since 1960.
Jeffrey DeLaurentis, one of the main promoters of the normalization of relations between Cuba and the US, was nominated by Barack Obama to be Ambassador to Cuba but did not get the approval of the US Congress, whose Republican majority refused to vote on the president’s proposal. In July of 2017, he was relieved by Scott Hamilton on an interim basis.
The designation of Golberg was proposed last December and finally approved by Havana two months later.
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