Last week one of Cuba’s more senior foreign ministry officials, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, paid a visit to Foggy Bottom. Depending on who you ask in this town, most people think the State Department visit focused on the Alan Gross case or the continued campaign against Americans who visit the island.
Unless you follow the ins and outs of U.S.-Cuba policy, such a visit would be a non-event. Not even newsworthy. At most it would be a routine stop by yet another foreign official in our fair city. During the Bush Administration official visits by Cuban officials to Foggy Bottom were rare, if any. That changed during the Obama Administration because, in part, they are somewhat simpatico with many things Cuba. But you should care.
During the course of the last twenty years — the time I have lived in this area — I’ve noticed many comings and goings of regime types. Ever since the Obama Administration took the reigns of the executive, there seems to have been a spike in low grade diplomacy with the Cubans. I do not think it is as intense as it was during the Carter Administration, but close enough.
Why did Ferreiro visit the State Department, who did she meet with, and what did they talk about? What could be so interesting or necessary that your tax-payer funded State Department needed to meet with an official from a country deemed a state sponsor of terrorism? Ferreiro is no ordinary regime official, she’s the head of the foreign ministry’s North American Division and an intelligence official. She is one of Cuba’s chief trouble-makers for all things U.S.A.
Nothing good will ever come from negotiations with the Cuban regime. Never has, never will. They are experts at gaming our political system and understand how to pit one agency over another. While they are a little more careful with the U.S. Congress, they understand how to use political pivots — states that sell food to Cuba — to make trouble on the policy front.
The U.S. does not need to improve relations with Cuba. It is Cuba that desperately needs to improve relations with the United States. High-ranking Cuban officials such as Ferreiro do not ‘pop in’ to the State Department for routine visits. These meetings are rare and few. There is more to it. The Obama Administration should release more details about the session as soon as possible.