The U.S. embassy in Havana will not be inviting the opposition to its official inauguration, which will take place this coming Friday, August 14th, in Havana, with the attendance of John Kerry. Nevertheless, another flag raising ceremony has been planned at the ambassador’s residence where there will be a meeting between the Secretary of State and a group of dissidents, as has been confirmed by 14ymedio. Among the activists who received an official invitation from Secretary of State John Kerry are Antonio González Rodiles, Martha Beatriz Roque, Elizardo Sánchez, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Dagoberto Valdés and Héctor Maseda, among others.
The flag-raising ceremony and the reception at the residence of Jeffry DeLaurentis will begin at 4:15 PM and the guests are expected to arrive before 3:45 “for security reasons.”
Washington hopes this will resolve the dilemma created by the official visit of John Kerry to Havana, the first by a secretary of state in seventy years.
The news comes one day after Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), wrote Mr. Kerry asking him to “meet with the courageous leaders who are fighting to bring freedom to Cuba and invite them to the ceremony you will be presiding over at the new American embassy.” The Cuban-American senator added: “They [the dissidents], among many others, and not the Castro family, are the legitimate representatives of the Cuban people.”
Republicans are pressuring the White House to express a gesture of encouragement towards the opposition. Yet the Obama administration finds itself in a predicament, since the Cuban government might interpret its Washington’s approach to the opposition as an offense at a moment when both countries are trying to normalize relations, since it considers dissidents to be “mercenaries.” On the other hand, excluding the opposition might result in criticism from those sectors that would accuse the U.S. of being lukewarm when it comes to defending human rights.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said: “The United States will continue to advocate for the rights to peaceful assembly, association and freedom of expression and religion, and we’re going to continue to voice our support for improved human rights conditions and democratic reforms in Cuba.” Apart from the flag-raising ceremonies, Kerry will meet with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, and they may also hold a joint press conference. Kerry also plans on taking a short stroll through the capital, according to the authorities.
Translated by José Badué