After more than 50 years of strained relations between the U.S. and Cuba, there has been a breakthrough. Here’s the scoop
By Mary Foran
This week President Obama announced talks to normalize diplomatic and economic relations with communist Cuba. Cuban leader Raul Castro, brother of the long-time dictator Fidel Castro, told Cubans he welcomed the restoration of diplomatic ties with the U.S. in a simultaneous speech to island residents.
The reopening of a U.S. embassy in Havana, and the easing of trade and travel restrictions will end more than 50 years of estrangement between the U.S. and the island, 90 miles from Miami, Florida.
American relations with Cuba have been suspended since 1961 when Fidel Castro seized power and established a communist dictatorship aligned with the Soviet Union.
The deal came after 18 months of talks hosted by Canada, and an appeal by Pope Francis to ease tensions between the two countries.
Congress, which votes on the matter every year, still must decide whether or not to end the trade and travel embargo with Cuba.
President Obama’s decision was met with a furious reaction from opponents of liberalizing relations with Cuba. The President was quoted as saying that he respected the critics views, but that “isolation has failed to achieve its goal of changing Cuba’s leadership.”
Topmost: Cuban propaganda billboard says “Messrs. Imperialist, we have absolutely no fear of you!” opposite the Embassy of Switzerland in Havana where the United States Interests Section operates. Uploaded by KPu3uC B Poccuu. CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User_talk:KPu3uC_B_Poccuu)
Note that in lieu of embassies, the United States and Cuba operate Interests Sections in the Embassy of Switzerland in Havana and Washington DC respectively for lack of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Fidel Castro: By the late Alberto Korda, used here on the grounds that “it is the only available photograph of a historically significant event.”
Hemmingway: Owned by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. PD.