Daily Management Review

Cuba and Washington re-open their embassies


07/21/2015


Sensing a growing thaw in U.S-Cuba relations, Havana has urged Washington to fully dismantle the 53 year old embargo.



After a gap of 54 years, the Cuban flag was raised over the Cuban embassy in Washington, U.S.A. Hopefully the move towards normalizing and restoring relations with Cuba will open a new chapter with the former Cold War enemies.
 
The raising of the flag was a major milestone in the US-Cuba relations and saw the Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez preside over the re-inauguration of the embassy. The thaw in the diplomatic relations came to the foreground with the Cuban President Raul Castro meeting U.S President Barack Obama last December.
 
Seizing this golden opportunity, Rodriguez urged his Obama to utilize his executive powers and expand the growing relationship. The dismantling of the economic embargo was just a starter, the potential for future growth is immense. On his part, the Obama administration was more diplomatic and urged for improved human rights in Cuba.
 
 
Irrespective of the existing friction between the two neighbours, the re-opening of the embassies in each other’s capitals provided the most concreate signs that the negotiations for future growth and cooperation are on track. Both have shunned each other for too long.
 
John Kerry, the U.S Secretary of State hosted Rodriguez, the Cuban Foreign Minister, who happened to be the first Cuban Foreign Minister to visit Washington since the Cuban Revolution. The momentous occasion had a feel of optimism fueled by the day’s festivities, was another sign of thaw in the growing relationship between the two.
 
At the re-opening ceremony Rodriguez said, "The historic events we are living today will only make sense with the removal of the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes so much deprivation and damage to our people, the return of occupied territory in Guantanamo, and respect for the sovereignty of Cuba."
 
The Obama administration has not only eased travel restrictions but also the ease of doing business in Cuba and vice versa. These are however just a modest start, since some elements of the embargo are still in place. These can be lifted only by Congress, and the Republicans have the majority there, it is unlikely that they will be removed anytime soon.
 
Kerry cheered for a "new beginning" in relationships but said both had to traverse quite a bit of the journey together to untangle the "long and complex" path of completely normalizing the relationship.
 
Josh Earnest, White House’s spokesperson told reporters that the current administration was "hopeful" that Cuba would, in coming years, start to show respect for basic human rights.
 
Interestingly the building was the location where the Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro spoke at length when he seized power in Cuba in 1959.
 
A thre-man military honour guard was on display on the front lawn of the newly restored embassy in Washington where the Cuban flag was hoisted and was fluttering in the wind and saw the Cuban national anthem played.
 
Unfortunately the event drew competing chants from the crowd outside the gates with one group chanting "Cuba si, Fidel no," and the other group countering it with "Cuba si, embargo no!"
 
In Havana the scene was very different. Although the U.S Embassy was re-opened for business, the U.S flag was not hoisted. It will be hoisted on August 14 when the U.S Secretary of States is scheduled to visit Cuba.
 
Unlike the competing chants witnessed in Washington, the Cuban-Americans gathered in front of the embassy were seen clutching small U.S flags. One Cuban was even holding a banner that read "Welcome USA."
 
500 people attended the re-opening of the century old mansion that is the Cuban Embassy. The U.S delegation was led by Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson. Hardline anti-Castro lawmakers such as Senator Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio were not invited.
 
"We've waited a long time for this day," said Senator Patrick Leahy, who happens to be a staunch supporter of rapprochement. However, Jeb Bush, the Republican presidential candidate voice the opposite in Twitter, saying "Obama's rush to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba is wrong. This embassy will only serve to further legitimize repressive regime."
 
The opening up of the U.S0Cuba relationship is a prime example of the presidential doctrine of negotiating with the enemy. Some suggest that this concept will face even tougher challenges in Congress than the US-Iran nuclear deal.
References:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/20/us-cuba-usa-idUSKCN0PU07N20150720







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