U.S. and Cuba Hold Unproductive Extension of Second Round of Talks

On March 16, the U.S. and Cuba met in Havana for further discussions, mostly on re-establishing diplomatic relations and re-opening embassies. The focus was to be on so-called “nuts-and-bolts issues of limits on the number of diplomats and their travel in the host country. [1]

Although the U.S. expected the talks might continue for several days, they lasted only one day. The next day (March 17), the Cuban government released a statement: “At the end of the meeting, which took place in a professional climate, the two delegations agreed to maintain communication in the future as part of this process.” The U.S. had a similar statement: “The discussion was positive and constructive and was held in an atmosphere of mutual respect.”

Neither side said whether they had resolved any of the obstacles to reopening embassies.

There was concern before this week’s session that the recent U.S.-Cuba disagreement over U.S. sanctions against certain Venezuelans, as discussed in a prior post, might adversely affect the talks, but there was no overt indication, one way or the other, whether that was a factor in the apparently unproductive one-day session. Julia Sweig, an expert on U.S. relations with Cuba and Venezuela, said there was no sign that the increasingly strained U.S. relationship with Venezuela was affecting the warming of relations with Cuba.

On the other hand, there are other indications that the Venezuela situation may have been at least one of the reasons for the short and apparently unproductive U.S.-Cuba negotiations this week.

Yesterday Cuban President Raúl Castro was in Venezuela for an emergency meeting of the ALBA group that was called to discuss and react to President Obama’s executive order imposing sanctions against seven Venezuelans. In a speech at the meeting, Castro used some his strongest anti-American language in months, thrashing Mr. Obama over the sanctions and any suggestion that détente would lead to political change on the island. For example, Castro said, ““The United States should understand once and for all that it is impossible to seduce or buy Cuba nor intimidate Venezuela. Our unity is indestructible.”

In any event, the Venezuelan campaign against the sanctions threatens to put the damper on a celebration of U.S.-Cuba rapprochement at the Summit of the Americas in Panama on April 10-11.


[1] The sources for this post are the following: Office of Spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson Travels to Havana, U.S. Dep’t State (Mar. 13, 2015); Schwartz, Cuba, U.S. to Resume Talks to Restore Diplomatic Ties, W.S.J. (Mar. 13, 2015); DeYoung, U.S., Cuba set for third round of talks aimed at agreement to open embassies, Wash. Post (Mar. 13, 2015); Statement by the Director of Bilateral Issues US Department Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Granma (Mar. 13, 2015); Reuters, Cuba, U.S. Renew Talks on Restoring Diplomatic ties, N.Y. Times (Mar. 16, 2015); Reuters, Latest U.S.-Cuba Talks on Diplomatic Ties Ends After One Day, N.Y. Times (Mar. 17, 2015); Assoc. Press, Cuba, US Say Third Round of Diplomatic Negotiations Ends, N.Y. Times (Mar. 17, 2015); Serra, Meeting between officials of Cuba and the United States, Granma (Mar. 17, 2015); Archibold, U.S.-Cuba Talks on Restoring Diplomatic Ties End Abruptly, N.Y. Times (Mar. 17, 2015).






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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

2 thoughts on “U.S. and Cuba Hold Unproductive Extension of Second Round of Talks”

  1. The comment,” the Venezuelan campaign against the US sanctions threatens to put the damper on a celebration of U.S.-Cuba rapprochement at the Summit of the Americas in Panama”, is like the rapist blaming the person raped while trying to make amends with another of his victims. Let’s hope the Latin American countries come together in solidarity like justice seeking Americans should also do in bringing an end to this kind of thinking by the privileged and powerful.

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