NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Weissenstein has been appointed The Associated Press chief of bureau in Havana, the third bureau chief the news cooperative has had in Cuba since it reopened an office on the island in 1999.
The AP also announced that senior producer Christopher Gillette has been named to head AP television operations in the country.
The appointments were announced jointly on Thursday by John Daniszewski, senior managing editor for international news, and Sandy MacIntyre, director of global video news.
“Cuba is important for the Americas and the world. AP continues to deploy top-notch journalists to tell the story of Cuba’s people, culture and government with accuracy, fairness and insight,” said Daniszewski.
“AP’s customers will be well served by this move,” MacIntyre said. “Cuba remains a nation whose story fascinates and Chris brings the knowledge, experience and diplomacy to tell it well.”
The AP office in Havana was closed for decades following the early days of Fidel Castro’s revolution. It reopened in 1999 and is one of the few American media organizations that operate permanently on the island.
The 39-year-old Weissenstein has been a correspondent in Mexico City for the last two years, reporting throughout Latin America and helping coordinate coverage of Mexico and Central America. He will report to Marjorie Miller, editor for Latin America and the Caribbean, and lead a bureau situated in the historic quarter of Old Havana with a multi-national staff producing news in English and Spanish in print, photos and video.
“Mike Weissenstein has had a distinguished career at the AP, reporting from many countries around the world. He is an excellent correspondent, a descriptive writer and will be a strong driver of coverage of Cuba,” Miller said.
Weissenstein worked from 2005 to 2011 as an editor in the AP’s New York and London offices, and also did a series of temporary assignments in the Middle East. Before that he was a reporter in the AP’s New York City bureau, covering criminal justice and the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Born in New York, Weissenstein holds a bachelor’s degree in American history from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.
Gillette, 54, has been covering Latin America since the 1980s, and has a deep knowledge of Cuba.
“We are very pleased to have Gillette take over our Cuba video operation. His experience and knowledge of the island is undoubtedly among the best in the world,” said Fernando Gonzalez, regional editor for video, Latin America, and the former head of the video service in Cuba.
Based in Florida, Gillette reported on the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, the U.S. invasion of Panama, Pope John Paul II’s trip to Cuba and many other important stories. Elsewhere, he covered the collapse of the Soviet Union, both Gulf wars, the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti and Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina.
Gillette won a Peabody award in 1996 for a story for NBC News about felons from the Dominican Republic fleeing to the United States. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with a master’s degree from San Francisco State University.