Cuban leader Raúl Castro meets with U.S. President Barack Obama in 2015. (Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, public domain)
Caribbean, Cuba, Latin America: Week in Review

Raúl Castro Says Cuba, U.S. To Exchange Ambassadors

May 13, 2015 By Staff

Top Story — Cuban leader Raúl Castro said on Tuesday that the U.S. and Cuba will exchange ambassadors after the U.S. removes Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a sign that efforts by two countries’governments to normalize relations are proceeding.

Castro made the announcement at Havana’s after the departure of international airport French President Françoise Hollande, The Associated Press reported. Hollande’s visit was the first by a major Western leader since the U.S. and Cuba announced in December their intention to normalize relations.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision in April to remove Cuba from the terror list was seen as a key step toward the normalization of relations, but despite a positive response from Latin American leaders, members of the U.S. Republican Party voiced their criticism. The waiting period for Congress to reverse Obama’s action expires at the end of May, the AP reported.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • One week after a Mexican teenage girl was mistakenly identified as a kidnapping victim and forcibly taken to the United States, a second teenager has appeared in court in Mexico and is expected to undergo DNA tests to prove she is the missing girl.
  • The experience of immigrants held in detention centers in the United States is “tantamount to captivity,” according to their legal representatives and to an investigation by The Guardian that chronicles the psychological trauma incurred by detained children.


  • French President François Hollande made a state visit to Haiti on Tuesday, becoming the first French head of state to do so since the former French colony gained independence in 1804.

Central America

  • Guatemala’s legislature delayed the vote for vice president after a last-minute change on Tuesday of the three candidates put forward by President Otto Perez Molina, after Vice President Roxana Baldetti stepped down last week in connection with a corruption probe.
  • A Swiss court has upheld the life sentence for a former Guatemalan police chief, who has citizenship in both countries and was convicted of taking part in the 2006 execution of seven prisoners in a jail in Guatemala City.


  • U.S. State Department official Thomas Shannon left Caracas, Venezuela, on Tuesday following a two-day visit aimed at improving relations between the two countries, which have been tense for some time and fell apart altogether after the United States classified the Latin American country as a national security threat and sanctioned top Venezuelan officials in March.
  • The leader of Colombia’s FARC met with the leader of the country’s second-most significant leftist group ELN in Cuba in April, in an attempt to bring the ELN into peace talks between the FARC and the government, officials announced on Tuesday.

Southern Cone

  • An epidemic of dengue fever in Brazil — which has been partly ascribed to a severe drought in parts of the country — places added pressure to President Dilma Rousseff’s administration and current condition of the country’s healthcare system, according to Reuters.
  • The case brought against President Cristina Fernández by late Argentine Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman — which charged Fernández with conspiring with the Iranian government to conceal Iran’s participation in a deadly bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994 — was officially dismissed on Tuesday, almost four months after Nisman’s mysterious death by a gunshot wound to the head in January.

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