HAVANA – President Donald Trump's administration has named Philip Goldberg, who is bilingual and has decades of diplomatic experience, to head the U.S. embassy in Havana at a fragile time. The U.S. Congress doesn't need to approve the decision.
After the embassy closed in 1961, there was a U.S. interests section in Havana from 1977 to 2015, under the auspices of Switzerland. Former President Barack Obama reopened the embassy in 2015, but bilateral relations quickly changed under Trump.
Goldberg will be replacing former Charge d‘Affaires Jeffrey DeLaurentis, who left in July. Cuba continues to deny that they had anything to do with the "sonic attack" that hurt embassy employees and their relatives.
Goldberg served as the chief of mission in Kosovo and most recently as ambassador to the Philippines. Last year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte insulted Goldberg and accused him of interfering in the elections.
In 2008, Cuba's longtime ally Bolivian President Evo Morales expelled Goldberg, after he met with the governor who had threatened secession.
"Without fear of the empire, I declare Mr. Goldberg, the US ambassador, 'persona non grata,"' said Morales, a former coca farmer. "He is conspiring against democracy and seeking the division of Bolivia."