US Diplomats from 14 Latin American Nations Discuss Cuba, Haiti, During VOA Visit

The top U.S. diplomat in Cuba told VOA Tuesday the Castro government has “taken some steps” to improve relations with the United States, but there is a “long way to go” before the U.S. trade embargo can be lifted.

Jonathan Farrar, the Chief of Mission at the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba, made the comments at VOA’s Washington headquarters, where the top U.S. diplomats from 14 South American and Caribbean nations discussed key regional developments, including the situation in Haiti.

In his comments on Cuba, Farrar called the continued detention of 62 year-old U.S. aid worker Alan Gross, “an obstacle for increased dialogue between both countries.” Asked about the possibility of lifting the U.S. embargo, Farrar said, “as President Obama has stated, that would require profound changes in the conditions that are present in Cuba today.” The Farrar interview is available online at http://www.voanews.com/spanish/news.

Also at VOA Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten, discussed the ongoing electoral crisis that has gripped that country since the disputed November vote. Ambassador Merten told VOA’s Creole Service, “The United States would like to see a process that would reflect the will of the people. We are not supporting any candidates, only the process is important to us.”

Ambassador Merten also said the United States would continue to work with Haiti in the fight against cholera, which he said is yielding results. His full interview with the Creole Service is available online at http://www.voanews.com/creole/news.

During their visit to VOA the U.S. diplomats also discussed the changing media environment in Latin America. VOA Director Danforth W. Austin told the diplomats, “the Voice of America is committed to its mission of providing accurate, comprehensive and balanced programs that are suited to the region.”

Tuesday’s visit included the top U.S. diplomats in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Cuba, Barbados, The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Grenada, Guyana, Curacao, Surinam, and Trinidad and Tobago.


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