Triangular Diplomacy: The European Union, the U.S. and Cuba


Date: Feb 17, 2015

Speaker:
Ambassador Herman Portocarero, European Union Ambassador to Cuba

After graduating law school at Antwerp University, Ambassador Portocarero practiced law at the Antwerp bar. He joined the Belgian diplomatic service in 1978. His first posting was to UNESCO in Paris. In 1979 he joined the Embassy of Belgium in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His main activity was to monitor Ethiopian politics and the ongoing civil wars. In order to do so he travelled throughout the country under often dangerous circumstances. In late 1982 he moved to the Belgium Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica—the beginning of a long relationship with the Caribbean region. In Kingston he became deeply involved in the negotiations around the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the first step in a long career as an UN-related diplomat. During a sabbatical in 1989-1990, Portocarero worked as an independent consultant for the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières in Darfur and the Bar-el Ghazal in the Sudan and on the Sandinista-Contra frontlines in Nicaragua. In late 1990 he returned to the UN working with the Security Council (1991–1992) in the aftermath of the first Gulf war and during the Balkan wars. In 1992 he became one of the most active lobbyists for the UN Convention for the ban on anti-personnel land mines. He was also involved in the reform of UN peacekeeping operations.

In 1995 he became ambassador of Belgium in Havana, Cuba, and till mid-1999 was very active in promoting people-to-people contacts between Europe and Cuba, especially in the field of higher education. In 2004 he was named ambassador to the entire Anglophone Caribbean, as well as to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. His work was mostly economic in Jamaica, chiefly helping to rebuild a public transportation system and infrastructure in Kingston, and politico-military in Haiti, monitoring the UN peacekeeping and institution-building effort. In 2008, he became Belgian consul general in New York, where he was mostly active as a lobbyist and fundraiser, including for major Belgian arts events in New York and elsewhere in the U.S. In 2012 he ended his career as a Belgian diplomat to join the newly created European External Action Service, the diplomatic arm of the European Union. Based on his earlier experiences in Cuba and the Caribbean, as well as on his record in multilateral (UN) diplomacy, he was named the EU’s ambassador to Cuba in July 2012. Based in Havana, he oversees a diverse portfolio of activities in the political, trade and investment, and development cooperation fields.

Co-sponsored by the European Institute, the Institute for Latin American Studies, and the Cuba Program.

Date: Feb 17, 2015

Speaker:
Ambassador Herman Portocarero, European Union Ambassador to Cuba

After graduating law school at Antwerp University, Ambassador Portocarero practiced law at the Antwerp bar. He joined the Belgian diplomatic service in 1978. His first posting was to UNESCO in Paris. In 1979 he joined the Embassy of Belgium in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His main activity was to monitor Ethiopian politics and the ongoing civil wars. In order to do so he travelled throughout the country under often dangerous circumstances. In late 1982 he moved to the Belgium Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica—the beginning of a long relationship with the Caribbean region. In Kingston he became deeply involved in the negotiations around the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the first step in a long career as an UN-related diplomat. During a sabbatical in 1989-1990, Portocarero worked as an independent consultant for the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières in Darfur and the Bar-el Ghazal in the Sudan and on the Sandinista-Contra frontlines in Nicaragua. In late 1990 he returned to the UN working with the Security Council (1991–1992) in the aftermath of the first Gulf war and during the Balkan wars. In 1992 he became one of the most active lobbyists for the UN Convention for the ban on anti-personnel land mines. He was also involved in the reform of UN peacekeeping operations.

In 1995 he became ambassador of Belgium in Havana, Cuba, and till mid-1999 was very active in promoting people-to-people contacts between Europe and Cuba, especially in the field of higher education. In 2004 he was named ambassador to the entire Anglophone Caribbean, as well as to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. His work was mostly economic in Jamaica, chiefly helping to rebuild a public transportation system and infrastructure in Kingston, and politico-military in Haiti, monitoring the UN peacekeeping and institution-building effort. In 2008, he became Belgian consul general in New York, where he was mostly active as a lobbyist and fundraiser, including for major Belgian arts events in New York and elsewhere in the U.S. In 2012 he ended his career as a Belgian diplomat to join the newly created European External Action Service, the diplomatic arm of the European Union. Based on his earlier experiences in Cuba and the Caribbean, as well as on his record in multilateral (UN) diplomacy, he was named the EU’s ambassador to Cuba in July 2012. Based in Havana, he oversees a diverse portfolio of activities in the political, trade and investment, and development cooperation fields.

Co-sponsored by the European Institute, the Institute for Latin American Studies, and the Cuba Program.

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