FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 14, 2015
Washington, D.C.— Today, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the world from Havana, Cuba during a ceremony celebrating the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Cuba after over 50 years of severed diplomatic ties. Kerry’s visit to Cuba marked the first by a U.S. Secretary of State since 1945.
The symbolic gesture of raising the American flag in front of the newly reopened U.S. embassy in Havana represents an historic step forward in reestablishing normalized relations between the United States and Cuba.
“We are gathered here because our leaders made a courageous decision to stop being prisoners of history,” said Secretary of State John Kerry. “I applaud President Obama and President Castro for having the courage to bring us together in the face of considerable opposition.”
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), also in attendance for the flag-raising ceremony in Havana, released a statement today congratulating President Barack Obama and Secretary Kerry on this major step forward: “Seeing our flag raised again and hearing our national anthem was deeply moving – for me, and for the many Cubans who also witnessed this historic moment. Opening an embassy is not a concession to a foreign government. Nor is it credible to argue that by re-establishing relations, the U.S. is abandoning critics of the Cuban Government, or that we should wait until the Castros are gone… Our embassy in Havana will enhance the ability of our diplomats and law enforcement officials to protect the interests of the United States in this hemisphere, defend our ideals and support the Cuban people who deserve better economic opportunities and greater freedom.”
“The official reopening of embassies in Havana and Washington opens further space for dialogue and cooperation between the United States and Cuba after 54 years of a failed policy. Now is a time to celebrate, while continuing the important work of restoring normal relations. There is a palpable momentum for change, as the Obama Administration continues to unveil steps forward, away from the failed foreign policy of isolation that did nothing to improve the lives of the American or Cuban people. With overwhelming support for reestablished ties between the two countries—in the United States and Cuba alike—now is the time for Congress to take the next step and lift the embargo once and for all,” says Angelika Albaladejo, the Latin America Working Group’s Program Assistant on Cuba.
On July 20, 2015, the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C. was officially converted to an embassy.
The United States and Cuba had been negotiating the reestablishment of embassies since the December 17, 2014 announcement that the two countries would move to restore ties and the July 1, 2015 official announcement of the reopening of embassies by President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro.
President Obama’s actions on Cuba have made huge strides forward in normalizing U.S. relations with Cuba, but much remains to be done. Only Congress can definitively end the embargo and the travel ban on Cuba.
For more information on LAWG’s advocacy, analysis and coalition work on Cuba, see our website www.lawg.org, and the following:
- Press Release: Republican Congressman Files House Bill to Repeal Cuba Trade Embargo, 7/28/2015
- Press Release: Diplomatic Relations Restored between U.S. and Cuba for the First Time in Five Decades, 7/20/2015
- Press Release: U.S. and Cuba to Open Embassies in Havana and Washington, 7/1/2015
For more information or an interview with LAWG’s senior associate, Mavis Anderson, please contact our Program Assistant, Angelika Albaladejo: