Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cuba welcomes ambassador nomination but says Obama can do more

Cuba welcomes ambassador nomination but says Obama can do more
September 28, 2016
By Sarah Marsh

HAVANA (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's nomination of an ambassador
to Cuba is welcome but he should still do more to normalize relations
between the two countries during his remaining time in office, a senior
Cuban government official said on Wednesday.

Gustavo Machin, the deputy director for U.S. affairs in the Cuban
foreign ministry, told a news conference that Cuba will make those
concerns known during a bilateral commission meeting on Friday in

"The Cuban delegation will point out the lack of advances of in the
economic, commercial sphere," Machin said. "We consider the measures
adopted by President Obama's administration are positive but still
insufficient and limited."

Obama on Tuesday nominated career diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the top
official at the U.S. Embassy in Havana since relations were restored
last year, to be the first U.S. ambassador to Cuba in more than five

This was "welcome" news, Machin said. Cuba appointed its ambassador to
the U.S. a year ago. Still, the nomination must be approved by the
Republican-controlled Senate, which is seen as a long shot in a
presidential election year and given expected strong resistance from
Cuban-American senators including Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of

Obama should also use his executive powers, as he has done in the past,
to further hollow out the trade embargo imposed on Cuba after its 1959
revolution, Machin said.

Only Congress can lift the embargo, and the Republican leadership is not
expected to allow such a move anytime soon.

"If the president could... allow investment in telecoms, why can't he
authorize investments in other areas?" Machin said.

If he allowed the export of certain Cuban products to the United States,
why could he not broaden the export of Cuban products?" Machin asked.

Obama's critics meanwhile accuse him of already making too many
concessions towards Cuba without getting enough in return.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said earlier this month
that if elected he would seek to reverse the detente unless the leaders
there allowed religious freedoms and freed political prisoners.

Machin said he hoped the next president would take into account the
opinion of the majority of Americans, who agree with the opening to
Cuba, according to opinion polls.

Despite the need for more progress still, the two countries have made
concrete progress in improving relations over the past four months since
a previous commission meeting, Machin said, for example re-launching
commercial flights.

(Editing by Alistair Bell)

Source: Cuba welcomes ambassador nomination but says Obama can do more -

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