US Embassy Reopens in Cuba after 54 Years


The US has reopened its embassy in the capital of Cuba after 54 years, in a step showing the growing ties between the countries.  John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, was the first in his position to visit Havana in 70 years and presided over the ceremony.  It involved the US flag being presented to the same US marines who had brought it down in 1961.

Historic moment

Mr Kerry said that the current administration wanted to lift the trade embargo currently in place on the island, though this is something the Republican-controlled US Congress has so far stopped from happening.  It follows an open letter on Thursday from former Cuban leader Fidel Castro saying that the US owed the country millions of dollars because of its 53 year long embargo.

Mr Kerry described the hoisting of the flag as a ‘historic moment’ while speaking during the ceremony on Friday.  But he also warned that the US would not stop pressing for political change in the country either.

He told the crowd gathered at the embassy that the people of Cuba were best served by ‘genuine democracy’ where they were free to choose their leaders.  Kerry added that Congress would not lift the economic embargo if there were no movement on issues of freedom of conscience.


The flag was handed over by three men who had taken it down some 54 years ago while the US army band played the national anthem.  The Stars and Stripes was then hoisted once more and there was visible emotion in those present.

Mr Kerry conceded that the US policies of the past had not led to the democracy in Cuba that they had sought.  He said instead that ‘Cuba’s future is for Cubans to shape’.

The ceremony follows the reopening of the Cuban embassy in Washington DC last month and followed the announcement of a joint commission to oversee a full relations return, announced by Mr Kerry and his counterpart Bruno Rodriguez.

It follows a meeting between Cuban leader Raul Castro and President Barack Obama in December last year when restoring ties was announced.  Trade and travel restrictions were relaxed but Congress would not allow the lifting of the trade embargo that has been in place since 1960.

Mr Kerry’s visit led to criticism from a number of Republicans, including presidential candidate Jeb Bush who called is a ‘birthday present for Fidel Castro’ and that the administration were ‘acquiescence to his ruthless legacy’.

He and another candidate Marco Rudio, a Cuban-American senator from Florida, also criticised the Secretary of State for not inviting Cuban dissidents to the ceremony.  Mr Kerry was meeting dissidents at a private event later in the day.

Cuba have said that relations will be fully restored once the embargo is lifted.


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