U.S., Cuba mark new era
Cuba’s blue, red and white-starred flag was hoisted Monday at the country’s embassy in Washington, signalling the start of a new post-Cold War era in U.S.-Cuba relations.
In sweltering heat and humidity, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez presided over the flag-raising ceremony hours after full diplomatic relations with the United States were restored at the stroke of midnight when an agreement to resume normal ties took effect. Earlier, without ceremony, the Cuban flag was added in the lobby of the State Department alongside those of other countries with which the U.S. has diplomatic ties. U.S. and Cuban diplomats in Washington and Havana also noted the upgrade in social media posts.
Several hundred people gathered on the street outside the embassy, cheering as the Cuban national anthem was played and three Cuban soldiers in dress uniforms stood at the base of the flagpole and raised the flag.
But there were also signs of the sore points that continue in the U.S.-Cuba relationship. In remarks inside the embassy Rodriguez cited Cuban independence leader Jose Marti, who he noted had paid tribute to America’s values but also warned of its “excess craving for domination.” Cuba was able to survive the past 50 years only because of the “wise leadership of Fidel Castro, the historic leader of the Cuban revolution whose ideas we’ll always revere,” Rodriguez said.
He also slammed the U.S. for continuing to hold on to Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. naval base in Cuba where the American military prison continues to hold terror suspects. Rodriguez said Guantanamo was a “nefarious consequence” of U.S. attempts to dominate the hemisphere.
Edwardo Clark, a Cuban-American, holds an American flag and a Cuban flag as he celebrates outside the new Cuban embassy in Washington Monday.