Patricia Zengerle

Cuba blames unrest on U.S. interference as Joe Biden backs protests

Cuba blamed historic protests that took place over the weekend on U.S. “economic asphyxiation” and social media campaigns by a minority of U.S.-financed counter-revolutionaries, while U.S. President Joe Biden said he stood with the Cuban people. The streets of Havana were quiet on Monday, although there was a heavy police presence. Outages in mobile internet – the only way many Cubans have of accessing the web – were frequent. Chanting “freedom” and calling for President Miguel Diaz-Canel to step down, thousands of Cubans joined street protests here from Havana to Santiago on Sunday in the biggest anti-government demonstrations on the Communist-run island in decades. At least 80 protesters, activists, and independent journalists had been detained nationwide since Sunday, according to exile...

White House does not rule out Haiti request for U.S. troops

The United States is still reviewing a request for troops made by Haiti’s interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph to help secure key infrastructure after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Monday. Psaki said Haiti’s political leadership remains unclear and that it was vital for the country’s leaders to come together to chart a united path forward. Moise was shot dead early on Wednesday at his Port-au-Prince home by what Haitian authorities describe as a unit of assassins formed of 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans. Haitian police said on Sunday they had arrested another key suspect. The death of the president has plunged the troubled country into deeper turmoil, and U.S. officials traveled there on Sunday to assess the situation and ...

U.S. Senate confirms Joe Biden nominee Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee, retired Army General Lloyd Austin, to serve as Secretary of Defense – the first Black American in the role. The vote was an overwhelming 90-2 in the 100-member chamber, far more than the simple majority needed. Lawmakers from both parties said they were pleased that Austin would be installed to lead the Pentagon just two days after Biden was sworn in as president on Wednesday. Senator Jack Reed, the incoming Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, noted the wide range of challenges facing the country – including the coronavirus pandemic and competition with China and Russia. “General Austin is an exceptionally qualified leader with a long and distinguished career in the U.S. military,” Reed said before t...

Joe Biden nominates veteran diplomats for top State posts

Democratic President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday nominated U.S. foreign policy veteran Wendy Sherman, a key negotiator of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, to be the No. 2 official at the State Department. Biden also nominated Victoria Nuland, a retired career foreign service officer who was the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, NATO ambassador and State Department spokeswoman, to be Under Secretary for Political Affairs, effectively the third-ranking U.S. diplomat. Sherman, who has a masters degree in social work, was the State Department counselor from 1997 to 2001, a period when she was also policy coordinator on North Korea. From 1993 to 1996 she served as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs. Because of her association with the Iran deal, which was fiercely opposed by Repub...

Joe Biden picks diverse team of top economic advisers

President-elect Joe Biden named former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as his Treasury secretary nominee on Monday, and named three women to other top economic posts, setting the stage for a more diverse White House. While Biden’s transition to the presidency on Jan. 20 appeared to be hitting its stride, he himself was hobbling after fracturing his foot while playing with his dog on Saturday and will wear a protective boot for several weeks, his doctors said. The incoming administration has been hampered for weeks by Republican President Donald Trump, who has refused to concede to Biden, a Democrat. Trump has said without providing evidence that the Nov. 3 vote was fraudulent, claims that state and federal election officials have dismissed. Biden named leading members of an economic tea...