President Obama announced that the United States and Cuba will open embassies in their respective countries later this month in a historic step to restore relations between the two countries after 54 years.
“This is a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people and begin a new chapter with our neighbors in the Americas,” Obama said in an address from the White House Rose Garden.
US secretary of state John Kerry will travel to Havana for the opening of the US mission in late July to raise the flag on embassy grounds. “A year ago it might have seemed impossible that the United States would once again be raising our flag, the stars and stripes, over an embassy in Havana. This is what change looks like,” said Kerry from Vienna. The Cubans said they will open for business on July 20.
Obama announced the decision to restore relations in December, and the US took Cuba off its list of states that sponsor terrorism in May. The US severed ties with Cuba in 1961, two years after the Fidel Castro overthrew the US-backed government of Fulgencio Batista.