Whose Embassy Is This? 4

Cuba's President Raul Castro pauses as he speaks to reporters on the tarmac of the Jose Marti airport after escorting France's President Francois Hollande to his plane in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, May 12, 2015. Castro said Cuba and the U.S. will name ambassadors to each other’s countries as soon as the island is removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism later this month. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

Cuba’s President Raul Castro pauses as he speaks to reporters on the tarmac of the Jose Marti airport after escorting France’s President Francois Hollande to his plane in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, May 12, 2015. Castro said Cuba and the U.S. will name ambassadors to each other’s countries as soon as the island is removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism later this month. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

The Cubans try to control the new American compound in Havana

By THE WASHINGTON TIMES [OPINION]

Barack Obama’s romance with the Castro brothers is rapidly turning into a sour shack-up. That’s what happens sometimes to romances under a tropic moon and the rustle of the coconut palms. Cuba wants to redefine the sanctity of embassies, and how they function. The public still doesn’t know what concessions the president is making to keep a flame under the romance, but it doesn’t sound good for our side.

The State Department has asked for another $6 million to expand the “American interests section,” in all but diplomatic protocol the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana. Legally and officially, the American Interests Section is part of the Swiss Embassy, but it’s staffed by American diplomats and housed in the old American Embassy in a large building facing the Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Plaza, which was cobbled together to “embarrass” the Americans.

John D. Feeley, a diplomat with the usual mouthful of title, “the principal deputy assistant secretary of state” in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, asked in testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the money. Unless he told the senators more in private than he did in the public forum, it’s not clear what the money will be used for.

However, Mr. Feeley said some startling things about the big romance. American negotiators are still arguing about whether the security officers at the embassy are to be those of the Cuban secret police, and whether the U.S. can take its own electronic security equipment to expand the mission.

Whether American criminals who have taken refugee in Havana would be returned has not been determined, either. Within 48 hours of the announcement by the Obama administration that it would restore full relations with Havana, several Cuban dissidents were arrested, and are likely to remained imprisoned for an unknown period of time. The question of what the United States will get from reopened relations is not clear. What is clear is that the Cubans get a new center for Cuban infiltration, subversion and espionage in Washington.

WT OPINION continues here:  Embassy Confusion?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cuba, US Are Warily, Slowly Improving Relations 1

“Things are changing but they should have changed years ago,” says Darien Garcia Arco, 26, with his girlfriend, Lisandra. (Hannah Berkeley Cohen for The Globe)

“Things are changing but they should have changed years ago,” says Darien Garcia Arco, 26, with his girlfriend, Lisandra. (Hannah Berkeley Cohen for The Globe)

Bryan Bender, Boston Globe, bender@globe.com

HAVANA — The imposing, seven-story structure with darkened windows sits just across from the Malecon, or sea wall, central Havana’s communal hangout. It is unadorned, flying no flags, offering few signs that germinating inside are seeds of a better relationship between official enemies.

The United States cut off relations and imposed a trade embargo with communist Cuba more than half a century ago. But at the so-called US Interests Section in Havana, 50 US diplomats and 300 locally hired Cubans are quietly working on a range of common challenges.

The two governments are cooperating to combat human trafficking, improve airline security, and conduct search and rescue operations. They are working on joint efforts to improve public health and guard against environmental degradation. And “working-level” discussions are under way to do more, officials say.

The Drug Enforcement Agency could soon be sending agents to work with Cuban counterparts to track South American cartels, and the United States has proposed reestablishing direct mail delivery between the countries.

The behind-the-scenes work continues despite the recent controversy over a covert US effort to provide Cubans access to a Twitter-like social network.

Another thorny disagreement is over the fate of Alan Gross, a US State Department contractor who has been jailed in Cuba for four years, accused of being a spy. Cuban officials insist they want something in return; namely, three Cubans convicted in the United States on charges that they were intelligence agents.

“There is a big over-arching political cleft. But we are doing a number of things that have been politically blessed by both sides,” said a senior US diplomat who works at the diplomatic post.

The diplomat — who requested anonymity to speak, in compliance with State Department rules — expressed frustration that interaction between the two governments at higher levels is still officially prohibited.

The Obama administration, under pressure from politically powerful Cuban-Americans in South Florida and their supporters in Congress, insists that relations can be restored only when Cubans win “fundamental human rights and the ability to freely determine their own political future.”

Cuba’s leaders, meanwhile, decry continuing US efforts to destabilize their one-party system.

But a recent visit to this island just 90 miles from Florida, and interviews with Cuban and American officials, revealed a slow but unmistakable thaw on both sides of the Florida Straits. They are realistic about the snail’s pace of change, while describing pent-up demand for better economic opportunities.

Nowhere is that more evident than at the US Interests Section, housed in the former US Embassy that was completed just before the Cuban Revolution in 1959, when Fidel Castro, along with his brother Raul, took power.

Read more here:  Cuba, US Are Warily, Slowly Improving Relations

Today in History: Spy Detained in Little Havana 1

March 13, 2003: “Former” Cuban Intelligence Officer Lazaro Amaya La Puente was detained on immigration-related charges while working in Little Havana. The courts subsequently ruled that Amaya had overstayed his visa, failed to register as a representative of a foreign nation, and provided misleading testimony. He had originally arrived in the US in 2000. Prior to leaving Cuba, Amaya was a guard at the US Interests Section where he gathered intelligence on US personnel and the activities of Cuban dissidents and other government opponents. In December 2005, the US Court of Appeals ordered his deportation.

Editor’s Note: “Failure to register as a representative of a foreign nation” has become an espionage-associated charge experiencing widespread use since the 1990s. Originally created to list foreign lobbyists, it is punishable by 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. The charge requires only that the government prove the individual works under the direction of a foreign nation without Washington’s permission.

Cuba’s Security Forces Increase Harassment of US Officials Reply

Miami Herald:  U.S. officials say American diplomats in Havana face more harassment

There are increasing reports of incidents against U.S. diplomats as the Cuban government cracks down on dissidents

By Juan O. Tamayo  jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com

Cuban government agents have stepped up their verbal harassment of U.S. diplomats in Havana in the past year, shouting epithets at them from moving cars and publishing photos of their vehicles, U.S. government officials say.

“They’ve done this for quite some time, but over the last year or so they seem to have gotten nastier,” said one of the officials. “We have asked them to stop, and they have not.”

The increased badgering appears linked to Cuban President Raúl Castro’s ongoing crackdown on government critics, the officials said. About 4,115 short-term arrests of dissidents were reported in 2011, compared to 1,765 the previous year.

With some U.S. diplomats in Havana specifically assigned to monitor opposition activities, said one official, “when the security forces go after dissidents, (the U.S. diplomats) are usually in the neighborhood and catch the flak too.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/06/18/2851966/us-officials-say-american-diplomats.html#storylink=cpy