Wednesday, July 12, 2017

U.S. names interim charge d’affaires at embassy in Havana

U.S. names interim charge d'affaires at embassy in Havana

The U.S. Embassy in Cuba has a new interim chief at its seaside building
in Havana: career diplomat Scott Hamilton.

Hamilton, who has served as deputy chief of mission since July 2015,
replaces Jeffrey DeLaurentis as Chargé d'Affaires.

A brief notice posted on the embassy website does not specifically
mention the change of guard or reasons for DeLaurentis' departure,
although he has publicly stated that the island would likely be his
final post before retiring.

A spokesman for the embassy told el Nuevo Herald on Tuesday that
DeLaurentis completed his three-year cycle as head of the embassy on July 7.

"His departure is part of the normal rotation cycle of career
diplomats," a spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Havana said in an
email."Deputy Chief of Mission Scott Hamilton will serve as the Chargé
d'Affaires, ad interim, until further notice. The President will decide
when and if we nominate an ambassador to Cuba or any country."

Regarding Ambassador DeLaurentis' next assignment, the spokesman said:
"I don't have an announcement to make on that at this time."

DeLaurentis, a longtime diplomat, became the first to head a U.S.
Embassy on Cuban soil in more than a half century, after both nations
reestablished diplomatic relations. DeLaurentis, who played a
fundamental role in mending relations with Havana, was nominated by
former President Barack Obama to serve as U.S. ambassador. But the
nomination was blocked in the Senate by Florida Republican Marco Rubio,
who said the post should not be filled until the Cuban government made
strides on the issues of human rights and claims for property
confiscated from the United States.

The State Department has not yet published a formal statement on
DeLaurentis' departure and he still appears as the person in charge on
the embassy's website.

A notice published by the island-based Cuba Posible website bidding
DeLaurentis farewell said he returned to the U.S. on July 8.

Hamilton, a senior foreign service officer, will lead the embassy under
President Donald Trump and a revamped Cuba policy, which, while not
relinquishing diplomatic relations with the Cuban government, seeks to
put more pressure on thorny issues such as human rights and the return
of U.S. fugitives living in Cuba.

Prior to his Havana post, Hamilton served as director of the Department
of State's Office of Central American Affairs between 2013 and 2015.

Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres

Source: U.S. names a new interim charge d'affaires at embassy in Havana
| Miami Herald -

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