External Affairs

Cuba’s Top Negotiator Who Brokered Deal With US Named as Envoy

US Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General Josefina Vidal speaks at a news conference in Washington, after the fourth round of US-Cuba talks to re-establish diplomatic relations and re-open embassies, May 22, 2015. Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

US Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General Josefina Vidal speaks at a news conference in Washington, after the fourth round of US-Cuba talks to re-establish diplomatic relations and re-open embassies, May 22, 2015. Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

Havana: Cuba has reassigned the woman who led two years of intense negotiation with the United States under the detente worked out by former US President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro, state media said on Sunday.

Josefina Vidal, former head of North American affairs at the foreign ministry, will serve as ambassador to Canada, according to people close to her.

Vidal, a member of the Communist Party Central Committee, oversaw the opening of the two countries’ embassies after decades of Cold War enmity and the signing of 22 agreements on issues including law enforcement, resumption of direct flights, the environment and postal service.

Vidal’s reassignment follows US President Donald Trump’s declaration last month that the normalisation process was a “terrible” deal and that he would ban future business with military-operated Cuban companies and tighten up on travel.

The United States’ top diplomat in Cuba, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, who often sat across from Vidal during the historic negotiations, left his post earlier this month.

There has been little contact between the two governments since Trump took office, according to US diplomats.

It was not clear who would replace Vidal. No replacement for DeLaurentis has been named.