For the first time in more than 50 years, the U.S. flag has been raised at the American embassy in Cuba.
The embassy’s doors have been closed since 1961, when the United States first cut ties with the island nation. However, in December, President Obama announced that he and Cuban officials had agreed to restore diplomatic ties. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Cuba today for the flag-raising ceremony and to formally reopen the embassy.
“For more than half a century, U.S.-Cuban retains have been suspended in the amber of cold war politics,” Kerry said at the ceremony. “It’s time to unfurl our flags and let the world know we wish each other well.”
Relations between the two countries have been strained since the United States attempted to oust Fidel Castro, Cuba’s communist leader from 1959 to 2008. Americans have been banned from traveling to country, which is a mere 90 miles south of Florida, but today, Kerry condemned America’s isolation techniques, calling them outdated.
“It doesn’t take a GPS to realize that the road of mutual isolation and estrangement that the United States and Cuba were traveling is not the right one and that the time has come for us to move in a more promising direction,” he said. “In the United States, that means recognizing that U.S. policy is not the anvil on which Cuba’s future will be forged.”
Since President Obama’s initial announcement in December, travel bans to Cuba have been softened, and remittance regulations have been loosened. In May, the United States removed Cuba from its state-sponsored terrorists list.