Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bisa Williams moving on. New Cuban Affairs chief.

Musical chairs continues at the State Department. Deputy Assistant Secretary Bisa Williams, who traveled to Cuba in September to meet with Cuban officials, is expected to be the next U.S. ambassador to Niger.
Williams will replace Bernadette M. Allen, the American ambassador in Niger since March 2006. DiploPundit announced the news on Dec. 1. I'm just catching up.

Bisa Williams with Jonathan Farrar, current head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.

Williams is now acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central America, the Caribbean and Cuba in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. The State Department Web site also lists her as head of the Office of Cuban Affairs.
Actually, that office has a new boss: Ricardo Zuniga. He worked at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana when I was based there, and he and I sometimes crossed paths.
In 2003, Zuniga worked with former Interests Section chief James Cason to distribute aid to Cuban dissidents, which some analysts say helped triggered the March 2003 arrest of 75 activists, journalists and others.
In 2003, Zuniga was among the nominees for the State Department's Human Rights and Democracy Achievement Award "for exceptional achievement in the field of human rights and democracy."
The award "recognizes the work by officers of foreign affairs agencies abroad" and "is intended to pay tribute to outstanding research and reporting on human rights and democratic developments."
A friend and fellow Cuba watcher who knows Zuniga described him like this:
Ricardo is from Honduras. He is not optimistic about internal change in Cuba and no fan of the Castro oligarchy.
He is a long term career State Dept. professional. I am sure he will follow whatever Obama and Hillary decide and not be too proactive. In other words, I doubt he will self-start any marked flexibility in OFAC rules or regulations under his watch at State.
...overall, a sincere and nice guy....wish there were more like him in the US govt.

No comments: