Ending more than five decades of frosty hostility, the US and Cuba have restored their diplomatic relations, setting the stage for improved ties between the two prickly neighbours. For the first time since 1961, Cuba’s blue, red and white-starred flag fluttered outside the country’s diplomatic mission in the US, (starting July 20 2015), after both countries had severed ties 54 years back. The diplomatic missions of each country have been upgraded from interests sections to embassies.
US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro has announced on December 17, 2014 the decision to restore diplomatic ties and exchange prisoners.
The reopening of the embassies by both countries is the first step to bridging the deficit that existed between both countries for more than 50 years through most of the ‘Cold War’ period and for more than two decades after the world order entered a new phase.
“The significance of opening the embassies is that trust and respect that you can see, both sides treating the other with trust and respect,” said Carlos Alzugaray a long-time Cuban diplomat. Cuba is planning for a solemn ceremony at its mission in Washington with 500 guests led by its Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. Mr Rodriguez is scheduled to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry after the opening of the embassy. However, the US is not going to raise its flag in the US interests sections in Havana till August, where it is expected to have a formal ceremony with John Kerry presiding over it.
Havana has been excited like never before with many people giving makeover to the areas surrounding the US Embassy. While there are many differences still to be resolved between both countries, it is evident that a tangible change and transition in relations between both countries is happening. This is also a huge boost for Cubans living in US states such as Florida which is geographically very close to Cuba and has been in the forefront of pitching for improving relations between both countries for years.
With the US heading for presidential elections in 2016, it would be interesting to see how the domestic political scenario plays out and how the next government approaches the new relationship with Cuba.
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