We also highlighted the three remaining obstacles for the establishment of diplomatic relations -- namely the restrictions on U.S. diplomat's movement; the inspection of diplomatic pouches for the mission; and the Castro regime's police cordon to intimidate Cubans.
Thus, the question remained whether the Obama Administration would also cave to those demands from the Castro regime.
The answer came before the negotiations even started.
According to Article 26 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, "the receiving State shall ensure to all members of the mission freedom of movement and travel in its territory."
Yet, even before the fourth round of negotiations began yesterday, the lead Obama Administration negotiator, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, publicly agreed to accept restrictions on U.S. diplomats, similar to those in China and Vietnam.
Instead, she stated the U.S. only seeks to "minimize" them.
(On a side note: Why do U.S. diplomats still have restrictions in China and Vietnam despite decades of normalized relations, trade and investment? Clearly, a failure of our engagement policy.)
The Castro regime is surely delighted to know this beforehand.
Of course, it is absurd for the U.S. to accept such restrictions on our diplomats anywhere in the world, specially in the Western Hemisphere, where it is unprecedented.
The Obama Administration is opening a Pandora's Box, which will result in a great disservice to U.S. regional interests.
How long do you think it will be before Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and other Castro allies begin requiring similar restrictions on U.S. diplomats in those countries?
The U.S. should have made it absolutely clear that any such restrictions were unacceptable.
But clearly the U.S. team is at a negotiating disadvantage.