Thorny issues still ahead after U.S., Cuban embassies reopening


Cuba’s national flag was raised over the country’s newly opened embassy in the United States on Monday, as diplomatic relations between the two nations were restored after more than half a century.


“Cuba and America took the first formal step towards resuming normal diplomatic relations. For the first time in five decades since severing ties in 1961, the flag of Cuba flew over an embassy in Washington D.C. Last December, President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, agreed to restore ties.”

Earlier on Monday, the Cuban flag was also hoisted in the lobby of the U.S. State Department next to those of other countries that have established diplomatic relations with the U.S.

Despite the thaw after half a century, the ties between the two countries still have many thorny issues need to be solved in various levels.

“The fact remains that even with the opening of the Cuban embassy and the American embassy in Cuba, it’s a dynamic of imperial capitalist nation versus a small island nation that is attempting to maintain its socialist revolution and that fact is going to temper any of all that has happened to the newly improved relationship.”

Inside the embassy building, the Cuban Foreign Minister also emphasized some of the demands made by Havana.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez
“Totally lifting the blockade, the return of the illegally occupied territory of Guantanamo as well as the full respect for Cuban sovereignty and the compensation to our people for human and economic damages are crucial to move towards the normalization of relations.”

Many experts also believe that the two countries still need to overcome a series of obstacles before the full restoration of the bilateral ties.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) MARC HANSON, Senior Associate of Washington Office on Latin America:
“Well at the end of the day it’s through direct diplomatic talks that you’re going to negotiated the thorny issues. And so, this is putting a platform in place to discuss the issues, longstanding grievances about lost property, just one of many issues, but they’re also discussing immigration reform. They’re also discussing how to collaborate on how to fight drugs and the drug trade that comes through the Caribbean Basin. They’re also discussing how to go around people going from one country to the other, because there’s not diplomatic relations and getting away with crime.”

“In fact, the United States has its own customs for his diplomatic activity in the world and often doesn’t respect the rules. The history that we have in Cuba is the disrespect of diplomatic rules.”

“We do not have to be friends with the U.S., but we have normal relations. Now, Cuba has no illusions about normal relations.”

The U.S. Embassy in Havana, the Cuban capital, was also officially reopened on Monday. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to travel to Havana on Aug. 14 to attend a flag-raising ceremony at the U.S. Embassy there.

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