After more than fifty years, The United States and Cuba will be reopening their respective embassies in both Washington D.C. and Havana. Diplomatic relations between the two countries had been previously severed, but President Obama has been working with Cuba in order to reach an amicable agreement, which would end decades of severance. In 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower ended relations with Cuba sparked by Fidel Castro’s rise to power and his military revolution. Since then, the two countries, have not had any relations to speak of, in spite of the close geographic proximity. Cuba lies only 80 miles south of Key West, Florida.
Last December, President Obama announced that he would work to reunite the two countries and since that time, has worked to that end. Over six months of negotiations between the two nations will finally lead to the actual reopening.
Later today, President Obama will officially announce the reopening which will take place later this month on July 22nd. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is currently in Vienna, will also make an announcement today regarding the Cuban-American relations. Mr. Kerry, who is in Vienna working on negotiations with Iran regarding a nuclear agreement, also plans to attend the reopening in Havana. Recently, Cuba had been removed from the list of countries considered by the United States to have state sponsored terrorism.
The actual embassy will reopen in the very same building that last served as the American embassy in 1961. It is a seven story building, which is in need of more than $6 million in repairs in order to update it and restore it to a workable location. Jeffrey DeLaurentis has been deemed the front runner for the position of acting ambassador, with the hope of a permanent position, if appointed. Mr. DeLaurentis, currently an ambassador at the United Nations as a deputy assistant secretary of state and the political-economic chief in Cuba.
In Washington D.C., Cuba will most likely open the embassy in the Adams Morgan section in a large southern manor that is owned by the country. In recent week, the owners have begun external repairs to the building, repainting the outside fence, repairing the driveway. A large flagpole has also been installed, in the anticipation of a flag raising ceremony later this month.
Opponents of President Obama are highly critical of the newly restored relations with Cuba, as they feel the country is still under the dictatorship of Raul Castro, brother of Fidel. By reviving a relationship with Cuba, opponents such as Cuban American Republican Senator Marco Rubio, argue that Cuba continues to abuse human rights and harbor fugitive terrorists. He stressed that America should be cautioned and democracy should not be forfeited for the ideology of “diplomacy.”
However, President Obama and supporters of the newly restored relations believe that reopening the embassies in both countries is important for the country and its citizens, who will be able to decide where and when they wish to travel as well as conduct business, without the restrictions of government.