In response to Wednesday’s announcement that the United States would work to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba, Mexico’s former ambassador to Cuba revealed that his country had pursued a strategy of provoking the Cuban government in order to gain favor with the Bush administration. Ricardo Pascoe, who served as Ambassador from 2000-2002, says that Mexican President Vicente Fox and Foreign Minister Jorge G. Castañeda worked to appease the White House by damaging Mexico’s ties with Cuba, while he fought to maintain the bilateral relationship. Pascoe says his position is now vindicated since Mexico, a natural interlocutor between the U.S. and Cuba, which could have played a large role in the two country’s negotiations, lost out to Canada as host for secret bilateral talks.

“Mexico was in the worst position of all: completely left out,” said Pascoe, also exclaiming: “They didn’t choose Mexican territory for the talks (as would have been natural in other times). But with Fox and Castañeda we lost our historic standing with the island!”

Pascoe explained that the bilateral relationship between Mexico and Cuba could not be repaired under the governments of Felipe Calderón and current President Enrique Peña Nieto. For Pascoe, this not only demonstrates the failure of Mexico’s foreign policy toward Cuba, but more generally the country’s foreign policy toward Latin America.

Speaking more broadly about global issues, Pascoe said that President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba has significance beyond the domestic Latino/Latina vote and even considerations of Obama’s own legacy. Taken together with the previous day’s announcement that the European Union was removing Hamas from its list of terrorist organizations, Pascoe suggested that this can be seen as an indication that circumstances are forcing our political leaders to support more sensible and pragmatic policies.

Pascoe said: “This shows that in such a tumultuous world it is in the interest of political leaders to reduce the level of conflict wherever they can. It is clear that they chose these two cases because [the former policies] didn’t make the least bit of sense anymore.”