President Barack Obama has declared a “new chapter” between the US and Cuba with historical moves to change the current diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries.
According to President Obama the changes mark the “most significant changes in US policy towards Cuba in 50 years” and should be seen as a moment in history.
The political history between America and Cuba has been a very difficult one, especially during the Cold War era when Cuba was allied to the communist states of Russia and China.
It may have been unthinkable 30 years ago but now the US intends to open an Embassy in the capital of Cuba, Havana in only a few months time.
The new links between Cuba and the US come as part of a deal which saw the release of the American Alan Gross by Cuba and also includes the release of three Cubans jailed in Florida on counts of spying.
In emotional scenes Alan Gross arrived at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington from Cuba on Wednesday with footage showing him getting off a US government plane and stepping onto the tarmac where he was met by a crowd.
According to the BBC, the 65-year-old spent five years behind bars after being accused of subversion, for trying to bring internet services to communities in Cuba, however he has now been freed on humanitarian grounds and his arrest and imprisonment had undermined attempts to thaw diplomatic relations between the two countries in the past.
President Obama told press that he would be implementing new measures between the two countries to replace an “outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests”.
Some of the plans detailed by the White House in relation to Cuba include, the reviewing of the designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, the easing of a travel ban for all US citizens to Cuba, the easing of financial restrictions between the countries and an increase in telecommunications links as part of the efforts to lift the 54-year-old trade embargo.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks preventing the new measures had been the imprisonment of Alan Gross but now he has been released the US is able to “cut loose the anchor of the past”, as the Obama administration put it.
According to the BBC, Washington had held out the prospect of full diplomatic ties within months, but ordinary Cubans are going to be more interested in the economic measures the US government has promised.
Raising remittances levels from $500 (£320) to $2,000 a quarter could make a real difference to the livings standards of those Cubans with relatives and friends living in the US.