Who knew? The U.S. Interests Section in Havana http://havana.usint.gov/ , soon to become the U.S. Embassy, held a reception to celebrate the 4th of July on Friday and invited some 300 people. According to the independent Cuban news site Cubanet, the guest list was made up of “foreign diplomatic personnel accredited in Cuba, government functionaries, cultural figures, clergy of different religious denominations, the Ladies in White, government opponents, independent human rights observers, independent journalists and members of Cuban cooperatives and civil society.”
Foreign diplomatic missions normally hold receptions in their host countries, and sometimes these receptions provide a neutral space for leaders of opposing factions to mingle and sometimes even discuss their issues. But things can also go wrong. The Cubanet article said that two former political prisoners invited to the reception approached Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who agreed to a conversation, but when they raised the subject of other dissidents still in jail, the cleric became angry, told them there were no political prisoners in Cuba and threatened to call security guards.