US President Barack Obama on Tuesday appointed first in over half-century official ambassador to Cuba. But Republicans in Congress are unlikely to confirm the appointment before Obama leaves office.
President selected Jeffrey DeLaurentis, a career Foreign Office officer, who oversaw the reopening of the US Embassy in Cuba in 2015, to fill the post of the American ambassador to the island after years of frozen relations between the two countries.
“Jeff’s leadership has been vital throughout the normalisation of relations between the United States and Cuba, and the appointment of an ambassador is a common sense step forward toward a more normal and productive relationship between our two countries,” Obama said in a statement.
The nomination of DeLaurentis, who will have to be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, is unlikely to take place before the US Presidential elections scheduled for November. Moreover, the Obama’s decision to appoint the ambassador has been criticised by Cuban-American Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
“Just like releasing all terrorists from Guantánamo and sending U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Iranian regime, rewarding the Castro government with a U.S. ambassador is another last-ditch legacy project for the president that needs to be stopped,” Rubio said.
The US and Cuba restored full diplomatic ties in 2015, after more than five decades of frosty relations rooted in the Cold War. After a historic trip made by Obama to Cuba in March, 2016, the US lifted partly an embargo imposed on the island in 1962.