Exactly 55 years and 11 months after the United States withdrew its ambassador from Cuba, Barack Obama has just proposed that his country's Senate confirm diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis to the post.
While it is a highly symbolic step, it will have little practical effect, as it seems improbable that Senate Republicans will confirm DeLaurentis’ nomination to the post due not only to partisan opposition from a significant number of them toward the “diplomatic thaw” with Cuba, but also because more simply, they oppose anything that the president does.
Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio, who faces a difficult re-election this November, has reacted to the announcement by promising that he will block the nomination, something that is possible in light of U.S. Senate regulations.
One possibility for Obama is to take advantage of the Senate recess to appoint DeLaurentis. At the end of this week, Congress will adjourn through the Nov. 8 elections.
Formally, DeLaurentis is already equivalent to an acting ambassador. It is a position to which he was elevated in 2015 when the United States and Cuba re-established diplomatic relations. He had earlier served as chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba, which between 1960 and 2014 served as the United States’ only diplomatic representation within Cuba. For its part, Cuba has had its own ambassador, José Ramón Cabañas, in the U.S. since July 2015.