On Tuesday, President Barack Obama nominated Jeffrey DeLaurentis as the U.S. ambassador to Cuba, marking the first time that the White House has named someone to take on the highest diplomatic position in the communist-ruled country. However, the nomination is expected to be opposed in Congress by Republican senators who are against the administration’s renewed ties with Cuba.
Obama’s nomination of DeLaurentis marks his administration’s latest step in stabilizing the U.S.’ ties with Cuba ever since the relations between the two countries were restored last year. As noted by the president, appointing DeLaurentis as ambassador, who will take office in Havana, will strengthen the administration’s efforts in striving for a better cooperative partnership with Cuba.
“Having an ambassador will make it easier to advocate for our interests and will deepen our understanding even when we know that we will continue to have differences with the Cuban government,” Obama said in a statement according to Reuters.
DeLaurentis has been serving as the incumbent ambassador to Cuba since July of 2015. He was appointed when Obama and President Raul Castro reached an agreement to restore the relations between the two countries over 50 years after the Cuban Revolution in 1961.
Before formalizing Obama’s nomination of DeLaurentis, it will first go through the Senate’s approval. Since the Senate is largely controlled by Republicans who are against the restored relations between Cuba and the U.S., the move by the president is expected to receive strong opposition.
Those who are against the nomination, which include Republican senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, maintain that before Cuba gets a U.S. ambassador, the country should first establish major political reforms to its current ruling party. In addition, they believe the Cuban government should compensate the U.S. citizens and organizations that were affected by the rule of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, USA Today reported.