John Kerry, the U.S Secretary of State, will travel to Havana to raise the U.S flag at the American embassy. The move is a significant sign of the softening relations between the two nations, which were once cold-war enemies.
The event, which will see the American flag erected on the embassy house for the first time in 54 years, takes place approximately four weeks after Cuba and the U.S officially improved their diplomatic undertakings to embassies.
The Cubans held their flag-raising event in Washington on July 20th, but the Americans had to wait until the Secretary Of State, John Kerry, could travel.
Kerry, the only U.S. secretary of state to go to Cuba in 70 years, will go in the company of members of Congress, aides and three U.S. Marines who lowered the American flag in Havana in January 1961. Washington detached diplomatic relations with Havana as affairs got bitter soon after the infamous 1959 Cuban Revolution.
Cuba’s mansion in Washington and the seven-story waterfront building in Havana were closed down from 1961 until 1977, when they were restored as ‘interests sections’, a step below official embassies.
In a bid to end the long hostile relations, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced that they would reinstate diplomatic relations, work to stabilize ties and re-establish the embassies. The moves pave the way for the once flourishing trade between the two countries to re-open.
President Obama has employed his official powers to ease some of the U.S trade and travel restrictions, but the Republican-dominated congress has restrained his efforts to put to an end America’s comprehensive economic embargo.
Obama’s government says Washington’s extensive strategy of trying to impose change in the communist-governed country of Cuba through isolation was not effective. Speaking to Univision television ahead of his trip, Kerry said he hoped to see notable “transformation” start to take place.
Kerry said, “More people will travel. There will be more exchange. More families will be reconnected. And hopefully, the government of Cuba will itself make decisions that will begin to change things.”
Kerry plans to meet Cuban dissidents at the embassy of the U.S. on Friday afternoon in Havana. The dissidents were not asked to the dawn flag-raising in reverence to the Cuban administration, which sees dissidents as U.S.-backed mercenaries.
Reinstated diplomatic ties mean that the U.S diplomats will travel without restraint and increase personnel. Cuba has also cut down the number of security officers who keep an eye on Cubans moving in and out.
The duty of regulating overall ties is more complicated.
Cuba wants the U.S. to return the navy base at Guantanamo Bay, lift the trade embargo and halt television and radio signals beamed to the small communist country.
The Americans want the Cubans to review their human rights record, work on the return of fugitives enjoying asylum and respond to the claims of American citizens whose property was publicized after Fidel Castro took power.