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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Sun Sentinel editorial review on Michael Parmly

Posted October 13, 2005 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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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.

Member Comments

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On October 13, 2005, publisher wrote:

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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On October 14, 2005, journalist wrote:

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.