Cuba has filled a key diplomatic post with the appointment of Gerardo Peñalver Portal as ambassador to the Russian Federation. Peñalver submitted his credentials on Wednesday (Jan. 17) to Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov (photo above).
A brief formal announcement from the Russian Foreign Ministry said that “during their conversation, the officials discussed plans for further comprehensive development of the Russian-Cuban strategic partnership in the political, trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres, and exchanged opinions on current international issues.”
Peñalver replaces Emilio Lozada GarcÌa, who returned to Cuba on Jan. 1 after a four-year assignment in the Russian capital.
Peñalver, until Jan. 1 director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Bilateral Affairs Department, faces a daunting challenge as President Raúl Castro’s envoy to the Kremlin. Now that the Trump administration has reversed former President Obama’s tentative policy of rapprochement, Russia is moving actively to renew and tighten its ties with Havana.
Little is known publicly about Peñalver’s personal life but, evidently, his professional background is strong enough to earn him a promotion heavy with responsibility. Lozada García, his predecessor in Moscow, was forever on the move building relations with nations and regions in the Federation that were once part of the Soviet Union.
In 2005, Peñalver was appointed Cuba’s ambassador to Germany, from where he returned to Havana in 2009 to become one of Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla’s principal aides.
In July 2014, when Vladimir Putin visited Havana, Lozada and Peñalver were the first two diplomats whose hands the Russian president shook after leaving the plane.