14ymedio, Havana, May 18, 2020 — The digital news magazine Vozpópuli has reported that the Spanish foreign ministry has appointed two new diplomats to its embassy in Havana, a post that — along with Caracas and Washington — is considered “sensitive” by Madrid. It reported that senior officials were simultaneously posted to the other two capitals also.
The new appointments in three capitals will fill the number-two positions, who act as chargés d’affaires when the ambassador is absent.
In Havana Javier González Sanjuán is set to replace Minister Counselor Nuria Reigosa González. There will also be a new Consul General, José Antonio Hernández Pérez-Solorzano, who will replace Carlos Pérez-Desoy. All are career diplomats.
The second-in-command in Washington will be Pablo Sanz López. His counterpart in Caracas will be Rodrigo Campos.
The appointments were made by the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, Arancha González Laya, who received letters from diplomatic associations a few days ago demanding that she begin filling the overseas positions so that those selected could begin preparing to move themselves and their families over the summer.
The posts in Washington, Caracas and Havana were marked with asterisks on a list of available positons for which diplomats can apply, an indication that the government in Madrid considered them to be especially sensitive. In such cases, it is not necessary to consult or obtain the approval of the Career Board, a body within the Foreign Ministry that evaluates candidates’ suitability.
Spain’s diplomatic mission in Havana was the focus of criticism in February 2018 when the then ambassador, Juan José Buitrago de Benito, had a photo taken of himself posing in front of Fidel Castro’s tomb in Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, in Santiago de Cuba, during an official visit to eastern part of the country. The snapshot generated strong criticism from activists and dissidents.
After the incident, the right-of-center Ciudadanos (Citizens) party raised a series of questions in the Spanish Congress, asking the ruling Partido Popular (People’s Party) if it planned to admonish the ambassador for his visit to the gravesite, where he laid flowers. Shortly thereafter, in September of that same year, the diplomat Juan Fernández Trigo was appointed ambassador to the island, a position he still holds.
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