Written by 04:08 World

Wayne S. Smith, a Leading Critic of the Embargo on Cuba, Dies at 91

Wayne S. Smith, a veteran Cuba expert at the State Department who, after resigning in protest over America’s embargo against the island nation in 1982, spent nearly four decades leading efforts to rebuild relations between Washington and Havana, died on June 28 at his home in New Orleans. He was 91.

His daughter, Melinda Smith Ulloa, said the cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

For more than 24 years after he joined the Foreign Service in 1958, Mr. Smith was America’s man in Havana, whether he was physically in the Cuban capital or dealing with it from a desk in Washington.

Later, after leaving the State Department, he used his extensive experience to carry out a sustained campaign against America’s strategy of isolating Cuba, while also leading private and congressional delegations to the island in an attempt to build avenues of dialogue.

“He was one of the foremost spokespeople in favor of normalizing relations,” William LeoGrande, an expert on Cuba affairs at American University in Washington, said in an interview.

A witty and nimble writer, Mr. Smith turned out scores of opinion pieces, journal essays and books, including a memoir-cum-history, “The Closest of Enemies: A Personal and Diplomatic Account of U.S.-Cuban Relations Since 1957,” published in 1987.

“Cuba seems to have the same effect on U.S. administrations,” he liked to say, “as the full moon once had on werewolves.”

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Last modified: 7 July 2024
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