Monday, September 16, 2019

U.S. and Cuba Agree to Reopen Embassies, Restore Full Diplomatic Relations

embassy opening

Washington D.C. and Havana, Cuba will each open the doors at two new embassies on July 20 after over a half-century of diplomatic isolation, President Obama announced in the Rose Garden on Wednesday. The move comes following a wave of dramatically warming relations between the two Cold War foes, marking the most palpable sign of progress since Mr. Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro agreed to normalize relations in December 2014.

“Nobody expects Cuba to be transformed overnight but I believe that American engagement through our embassy, our businesses and most of all through our people is the best way to advance our interests in support for democracy and human rights,” Mr. Obama said in the Rose Garden.

Cuba had most recently been removed from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror, but lingering questions over human rights and freedom of speech reveal serious differences existing between the two nations yet. Critics have called attention to the above points of contention, but proponents of a full restoration of diplomatic ties have lauded the benefits of such a move, letting Americans themselves decide where to travel and do business.

“A year ago it might have seemed impossible that the United States would be once again raising our flag, the stars and stripes, over an embassy in Havana. This is what change looks like,” Mr. Obama said. “The progress we make today is another demonstration we don’t have to be imprisoned by the past.”

New York Times; ABC News