Oversight Needed on U.S.-Cuba Embassy Deal

Thursday, July 21, 2016
On the one-year anniversary of the resumption of U.S.-Cuba diplomatic ties, the Obama Administration should be pressed on whether Cuba is respecting Vienna Convention standards in its treatment of U.S. diplomats and the operation of the Embassy.

For example, does U.S. Embassy personnel currently have freedom of movement and travel in Cuba?

Is the Castro regime respecting the inviolability of U.S. diplomatic pouches to the Embassy in Havana?

Do all Cuban nationals working at the Embassy still have to be hired through SERVIMPORT, a Castro regime enterprise owned and operated by the Council of State?

We raised these key questions and other issues regarding the Embassy deal one-year ago -- click here.

The American people now deserve answers.

As discussed in today's The Miami Herald:

Resumption of U.S.-Cuba diplomatic ties hits one-year mark

After months of discussions on conditions to reopen the embassies, negotiators agreed that diplomats from both countries would have greater freedom to travel and engage with the people of each nation.

But Mauricio Claver-Carone, one of the founders of the pro-embargo U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC and executive director of Cuba Democacy Advocates, said he has “yet to see U.S. embassy personnel visiting the provinces regularly, let alone to visit democracy activists.”

In contrast, he said, “Castro regime officials are traveling throughout the U.S., propagandizing, lobbying against U.S. policy and being given visas without hesitation.”

Since the resumption of diplomatic ties, Cuban Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas has traveled extensively across the United States, attending conferences and speaking to various groups. He often tweets about his experiences and new developments in the Cuba-U.S. relationship.

[U.S. Rep. Ileana] Ros-Lehtinen said she wishes U.S. embassy personnel would engage in more outreach: “U.S. pro-democracy advocates have complained that they have less access to the embassy and their visas are being denied, even though Castro sympathizers have their visas granted,” she said.

And some exile activists complain that the United States has done little in the past year to further an agenda that includes respect for human rights in Cuba.

“We have yet to see how the embassy has helped promote human rights on the island better, amid growing repression. To the contrary, the silence is deafening,” said Claver-Carone.