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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Réouverture de l’ambassade américaine à Cuba

by Humanite.fr

Reopening of the American embassy in Cuba

Translated Thursday 24 September 2015, by Adrian Jordan

John Kerry reopened the American embassy on the island of Cuba on Friday, after over 54 years of closure. As for the Cuban flag, it was once again raised in Washington on 20 July, the day of the official re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

For his trip John Kerry was accompanied by advisors, members of Congress and the three marines who last carried the flag in January 1961. According to the US State Department, the last American head of diplomacy to set foot in Cuba was a certain Edward Stettinius, who made a brief stopover, on 9 March 1945, on the way back from an international conference in Mexico. The symbolic return of the American flag comes a little less than eight months after the announcement - by the presidents of Cuba, Raul Castro, and America, Barack Obama – of re-establishment of diplomatic relations.

In the meantime, Barack Obama used his presidential powers to ease current rules concerning travel and trade between the two countries but, according to Havana, Republican controlled Congress resisted his call to end the embargo targeting Cuba. The Castro government calls for the restitution of the Guantanamo naval base in the east of the country, and for an end to the radio and television broadcasts to Cuba from American territory. The United States, themselves, ask that refugees who have obtained asylum in the US should have the right to return to Cuba, and also ask for damages for Americans whose assets were nationalised when Fidel Castro came to power in 1959.

Though relations between the two countries have calmed, the father of the Cuban revolution ruffled them by restating all the sticking points which remain. In an article published by local press, the ex-president, who retired from office in 2006 for health reasons, also pressed the issue of the “many millions of dollars” which, according to him, the United States owe Cuba in compensation for the economic embargo imposed on the island in 1962.

The American embassy, a seven storey building on the Havana seafront, remained closed from 1961 to 1977, the year of its reopening as a simple “Interest Section”. On Thursday night, employees affixed a plaque which reads “Embassy of the United States of America” above the building’s entrance.

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