U.S. embassy in Havana marks ‘new chapter’ in Cuba ties
After more than a half-century of hostility, the United States and Cuba declared Wednesday they will reopen embassies in each other’s capitals this month, marking a historic full restoration of diplomatic relations between the Cold War foes.
For President Barack Obama, the opening of the U.S. Embassy in the heart of Havana is one of the most tangible demonstrations of his long-standing pledge to engage directly with U.S. adversaries. Heralding the embassy agreement, Obama declared: “This is what change looks like.’’
Cuban television broadcast Obama’s statement live, underscoring the new spirit. In a letter to Obama, Cuban President Raul Castro praised the embassy announcement as a way to “develop respectful relations and co-operation between our peoples and governments.’’
Despite the historic step, the U.S. and Cuba are still grappling with deep divisions and mistrust.
The U.S. is particularly concerned about Cuba’s reputed human rights violations. Cuba is demanding an end to the U.S. economic embargo, the return of the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay and a halt to U.S. radio and TV broadcasts aimed at the island.