Obama nominates ambassador to Cuba

President Obama has nominated Jeffrey DeLaurentis, our top diplomat in Havana, to be the first U.S. ambassador to Cuba since the Cold War began.

The nomination will almost certainly not be considered in the Republican-controlled Senate, where both Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham have vowed to block any name the president sends up to represent U.S. interests in Cuba.

The Hill:

There is no public servant better suited to improve our ability to engage the Cuban people and advance U.S. interests in Cuba than Jeff,” Obama said in a statement. 

The president said that having an ambassador would make it easier for the U.S. to advance its interests in Cuba and convey objections over its “differences with the Cuban government.” 

“He is exactly the type of person we want to represent the United States in Cuba, and we only hurt ourselves by not being represented by an ambassador,” Obama said. 

It’s unlikely the GOP-controlled Senate will confirm DeLaurentis before Obama leaves office in January. 

Republicans, such as Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), have vowed to block anyone Obama nominates as ambassador. 

It’s an effort to rebuke Obama’s decision to reopen ties with Cuba, a move they believe rewards the communist island nation, which still commits human-rights abuses against its citizens. 

“A U.S. ambassador is not going to influence the Cuban government, which is a dictatorial, closed regime,” Rubio, a Cuban-American, said in a July interview.

Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes disagreed in an interview with Yahoo News, which first reported the nomination. 

“To us, the concept that it’s a reward for a country to have an ambassador makes no sense,” Rhodes said. “On the contrary, having an ambassador gives you a higher profile, a higher-ranked advocate for what America cares about.”

But Rhodes admitted that “it will be hard” to confirm DeLaurentis. It’s unclear whether the Senate would even consider his nomination during the lame-duck session of Congress, when it will likely have to pass a government spending bill and handle other pressing issues.

DeLaurentis, a career diplomat, has served as the chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Havana since 2015, when Obama formally reestablished diplomatic ties with Cuba. Before he began his service in Cuba a year earlier, he served in posts at the U.S. mission to the United Nations and the State Department. 

Since the "opening" to Cuba was initiated, the Castro regime has, if anything, increased its oppression of democracy advocates and cracked down even heavier on dissent.  Naming an ambassador would validate these policies and make the U.S. complicit in Castro's despotism and the persecution of the Cuban people.

But this isn't as important to the Obama administration as his personal "legacy," achieved by throwing away five decades of bipartisan U.S. policy, to "make history."  All the U.S. has succeeded in doing by enabling the Castro regime is cut the legs from underneath democracy advocates and make it easier for Castro to suppress them.

That's the real impact of Obama's Cuban legacy.