The U.S. and Cuba agreed on Wednesday, with a letter exchange by Cuban and American Presidents, to end the 54 year period of isolation and restore diplomatic relations on the 20th of July, with a state visit to Havana by U.S. State Department Secretary John Kerry.
On Wednesday U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, the younger brother of Fidel Castro, exchanged letters of confirmation to restore diplomatic relations between the two governments and the people of America and Cuba. The deal marked the vow made by the Presidents in December of 2014. The letters have set the date of formal opening of the embassies on the 20th of July, with a visit by John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, to Havana in order to raise the U.S. flag outside the U.S. embassy.
President Obama is very grateful that this isolation of Cuba and the Cuban people has ended and during a speech at the White House Rose Garden he reminiscences that the U.S. and Cuba have severed their ties in 1961, the year he was born. He considers this victory as one of his best achievements in foreign policy.
The U.S. has broken diplomatic ties with Cuba after the Cuban Revolution took place in 1959 and Fidel Castro and his rebel army took power after the dictator Fulgencio Batista, who was supported by the United States, has fled the island. Washington immediately put a partial economic embargo against Cuba and in 1960 broke the diplomatic ties completely. After the U.S. defeat by Castro’s troops at the Bay of Pigs, the U.S. imposed a full trade embargo on Cuba. In 1962, the Cuban missile crises brought Soviet missiles on Cuban territory, which provoked Washington with fear of nuclear attack. After a compromise deal between Moscow and Washington, the Soviets withdraw their missiles. Two decades later, in 1982, the U.S. Department of State added Cuba to the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. The isolation of Cuba had continued even after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and became a foreign policy pillar of 10 U.S. presidents. The new approach to the U.S.-Cuban relations has been made under the Presidency of Democrat Barack Obama with liberalization of travel and commerce restrictions and exchange of prisoners.
According to Reuters, Barack Obama in his speech at the White House Rose Garden stated “The progress that we mark today is yet another demonstration that we do not have to be imprisoned by the past. When something is not working, we can – and will – change.” He said that this kind of foreign policy has not worked for a large period of time and that t had failed to promote democracy or improve the life of Cuban people who live in a one party state. He said “It has not worked for 50 years. It shuts America out of Cuba’s future and it only makes life worse for the Cuban people.
Even though the governments of both countries agreed to restore diplomatic relations and try to ease the economic and trade embargo, there are still difficulties that both governments know will be a challenge in the bilateral relations in years to come. According to Reuters, Barack Obama made a point of saying that the U.S. will continue highlighting disagreement over human rights and other issues. He said “We will also continue to have some very serious differences. That will include America’s enduring support of universal values like freedom of speech and assembly and the ability to access information. And we will not hesitate to speak out when we see actions that contradict those values.” On the other hand, the Cuban Government has also issued a statement on Wednesday with which they ask the U.S. to stop broadcasting TV and radio signals to their country and end the subversive programs they are doing, as well as return Cuban territories occupied by the U.S. military in Guantanamo.
In respect to the wish of both peoples, American and Cuban, to travel freely between the countries, Barack Obama has seized the opportunity to restore close ties with Cuba, with help by Pope Francis and Canada and move forward. It is up to Congress to do the same and consider the embargo lift.