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Posted October 13, 2005 by publisher in Cuba Human Rights

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South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

ISSUE: The new U.S. diplomat in Havana strikes a different tune.

A “less controversial climate” would be a nice change of pace. It’s in the best interests of U.S. policy for Washington’s latest man in Havana to show tact and diplomacy.

Michael Parmly settled in as chief of the U.S. Interests Section weeks ago. He brings a resume that lists several difficult diplomatic stints, including Afghanistan and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Most refreshing is Parmly’s indication, quoted above in answer to a question, that he seeks to lower the rhetorical volume between the United States and Cuba. By contrast, Parmly’s predecessor, James Cason, seemed to relish being the Cuban government’s Public Enemy No. 1.

During his tumultuous tenure in the Cuban capital, Cason appeared to go out of his way to antagonize the island’s communist government, and to wear his vilification by the regime as a badge of honor. In particular, Cason’s open support of dissidents and government opponents calling for liberalization rankled the Castro regime.

Cason’s brand of in-your-face-diplomacy, however, doesn’t seem to have created a great deal of space for dissent and opposing views in Cuba. In fact, the Castro government used the tight links between some opposition groups and the U.S. mission two years ago to justify the imprisoning of 75 dissidents. And while some dissidents welcomed Cason’s aid, others did not—so Cason left a mixed record even among the people he devoted much of his energy to.

Perhaps less antagonistic diplomacy shouldn’t be Parmly’s only big picture goal. Maybe he should pursue a broader agenda that builds ties to other segments of Cuba’s 11 million or so people? Maybe that might help usher in or smooth the way for the much-desired transition?

For now, though, less controversial is a start.

BOTTOM LINE: Tact might be a more effective diplomatic tool.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on October 13, 2005 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Is that Common Sense that I smell? Wait, this can’t be true.

    Diplomacy from the US Interests section in Havana? I guess James Cason did not teach his replacement very well.

    Anyway, so far I am impressed with Mr. Parmly’ attitude and resume.

    I have never been impressed with Mr. Cason’ attitude and resume. Where is he being useless now?

    Good luck Mr. Parmly and may I be so bold to suggest that you should ask for a meeting with the President of the country in which you now live and work.

    Perhaps direct dialogue will lead to a better Cuba US relations.

    Do you want to affect the world in a positive way? You just may be in a position to bring a rational dialogue to this 40+ years of failed US Cuba policy.

    Treat your host country with respect and furthermore, take the opportunity to teach Americans about the good things Cuba has to offer.

    We welcome your un-edited comments here at the Havana Journal should you wish to “blog” about your experiences in Cuba.



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  2. Follow up post #2 added on October 14, 2005 by journalist with 2 total posts

    Correction
    South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board
    Posted October 13 2005

    South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board
    Correction
    October 13, 2005
    An editorial in Tuesday’ edition misattributed a quote. Cuban dissident Oscar Espinosa Chepe said he hoped new U.S. Interests Section Chief Michael Parmly would contribute a “less confrontational climate.”

    The editorial erroneously attributed that quote to Parmly. We regret the error.


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