U.S. em­bassy in Ha­vana marks ‘new chap­ter’ in Cuba ties

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

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.

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