Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hillary Clinton's counterpart in Cuba is a formidable figure

Cuba's Foreign Minister is Felipe Perez Roque. He was appointed in 1999. That was almost a decade ago and he's still young - just 43. I've seen him deliver speeches many times in Havana and I've spoke with him a few times. He has excellent public speaking skills and a great memory for details. I've heard some of his critics say he's just good at parroting the party line. I disagree. He's more than a talking head. My impression is that he's a thinker, he's analytic, strategic, sharp. He's fierce in debates and defends Cuba well. He's been on the job for nine years, so he knows his stuff.

I wouldn't describe him as a moderate. He does not back away from confrontations with foreign diplomats or the foreign press. He's a staunch defender of socialism. He told CNN in October that he predicts "more revolution and more socialism in Cuba" after the death of Fidel Castro.

Hillary Clinton, of course, is a political veteran. She's intelligent, determined and not to be underestimated. I would love to be in the room when she and Perez Roque meet.

Anyone know if they've stumbled into each other at any diplomatic events?


Felipe Perez Roque quotes
Perez Roque in Wikipedia
Cuban Foreign Ministry

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