US diplomat slams Trump’s ‘feckless’ policies on Cuba

US diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis was a key actor in the bilateral rapprochement process initiated in December 2014 by former President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro. Credit: Handout.

US government’s current approach ‘a hollow imitation of a policy that failed the United States for nearly 60 years’

By DAVE MAKICHUKAsia Times JULY 3, 2020

“The administration’s hypocrisy is breathtaking,” wrote US diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis.

In a scathing editorial published Tuesday in the Miami Herald, DeLaurentis, who supervised the Barack Obama administration normalization with Cuba, said the current policy towards the island is “feckless” and based on “domestic politics,” On Cuba News reported.

DeLaurentis, who led the US legation in Cuba between 2014 and 2017, said the Trump administration is wrongly deporting Cubans seeking asylum, limiting the ability of Cuban-Americans to send remittances to the island and restricting trade opportunities and travel.

He criticized that those who direct the “maximum pressure” policy towards Cuba know it will not lead to a regime change, that rather “it strengthens Cuba’s (and Iran’s) hand in Venezuela, with Russia and China occupying the vacuum we left behind,” the report said.

He regretted that “they nevertheless continue down this path, trying to manipulate an important political bloc understandably frustrated and impatient for change on the island they love.”

DeLaurentis was a key actor in the bilateral rapprochement process initiated in December 2014 by former President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro, which took a complete and devastating turn under the Trump administration, the report said.

The diplomat called the current government’s approach “a hollow imitation of a policy that failed the United States for nearly 60 years.”

“Meanwhile, hardliners in Cuba smile from ear to ear. They know how to deal with this playbook exceedingly well; it is far more comfortable for them than engagement,” he wrote.

With the reestablishment of bilateral relations and the opening of the US Embassy in Cuba in July 2015, DeLaurentis became Charge d’Affaires, the report said.

Obama formally nominated him as ambassador to Cuba in September 2016, but the Republican opposition, which controlled both Houses of Congress, declined to put that appointment to a vote, and DeLaurentis was never confirmed.

DeLaurentis stressed in the editorial that Obama’s policy increased the flow of information to, from, and within Cuba, and that Cuba’s private sector, which now represents 15% of the GDP, was dynamic and growing, the report said.

“Living conditions for the Cuban people, especially those courageous enough to venture into burgeoning private enterprises, were improving. Mentalities were changing,” he said.

US President Barrack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in better times. Credit: File photo.
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