Rodriguez to set tone as Cuba's foreign minister

The new face of the Cuban government overseas is a man with perfect English, a steady professional style, and more than a decade of experience living in New York as a Cuba representative at the United Nations.

People who have met newly appointed Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez tend to use the same word to describe him: diplomatic. It's not an adjective often used for Cuban ambassadors, who are usually noted for ideological rhetoric.

Rodriguez is a career foreign service officer who takes the helm of the country's foreign ministry at a time of heightened expectation for change between Washington and Havana.

His predecessor was fired and Rodriguez was appointed the same week that the U.S. Senate debated adjustments to Cuba policy. The former United Nations ambassador will be helping shape Cuban foreign policy just after a parade of Latin American presidents visited the island – and a month before those same leaders meet with President Barack Obama at the Summit of the Americas conference in Trinidad.

"Raul Castro could well be preparing for Obama, because Obama is a complicating factor for all these fellows: Castro in Cuba, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Evo Morales in Bolivia," said Javier Corrales, a Cuba expert at Amherst College in Massachusetts. "They need to have a response."

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