U.S. restores full diplomatic ties with Cuba

In this July 20, 2015, photo, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, right of center, applauds with other dignitaries after raising the Cuban flag over their new embassy in Washington.
Associated Press/ Andrew Harnik, Pool

There is a new star in Washington, D.C.

Along with 50 representing states of the union on the Stars and Stripes flag, another added to the galaxy that comprise the Caribbean and re-establishes Cuba’s severed relations with the United States.

The historic event marked the hoisting of Cuba’s red, white and blue, one star flag at the Caribbean nation’s embassy in Washington, signaling the start of a new post-Cold War era in U.S.-Cuba relations.

In Havana, a carnival atmosphere reigned around the new U.S. Embassy overlooking Havana’s Malecon seaside promenade.

On one of the hottest days of the season, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez presided over the flag-raising ceremony hours after full diplomatic relations with the United States were restored at the stroke of midnight.

At that time, an agreement to resume normal ties took effect.

Afterwards, Rodriguez met with John Kerry, U.S. secretary of state, becoming the first Cuban foreign minister to set foot in the State Department since 1958.

“We celebrate this day — July 20 — as a time to start repairing what has been broken and opening what for too long has been closed,” Kerry said in Spanish at a joint news conference with Rodriguez.

“This milestone does not signify an end to the many differences that still separate our governments,” Kerry said.

“But it does reflect the reality that the Cold War ended long ago and that the interests of both countries are better served by engagement than by estrangement.”

And while everything seemed almost perfect, the Cuban emissary invoked reality by complaining that the U.S. should discontinue retention of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in his homeland.

It is there that the American military prison still confides terror suspects.

Rodriguez also repeated demands for the U.S. to end the 53-year-old embargo on Cuba and pleaded for the U.S. to refrain from interference into Cuba’s internal affairs.

On a lighter side, the rare sight of a pair of officers standing on each corner around the building, smiling and wishing “buenos dias” to passers-by was in contrast to the casting of stony glares often exhibited. Allegedly, curious Cubans clustered around the forest of flagpoles at the front of the embassy, snapping photos as tourists posed for selfies in front of the building.

Kerry said he would visit Cuba on Aug. 14 to preside over a flag-raising ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

More than 500 guests joined a 30-member delegation of diplomatic, cultural and other leaders from Cuba to officially witness the renewal of diplomatic relations with the United States.

JAMAICANS TO GIVE THANKS FOR 53 YEARS OF SELF-RULE

Jamaica was first to seek independence from Britain and on Aug. 6, 1962 they paved the way for the rest of the British Caribbean nations to follow a quest for self-governance.

On Aug. 2, nationals will host a thanksgiving church service to mark the 53rd anniversary of that historic event. Slated to begin at 4 pm at Saint Frances of Rome Church, 4307 Barnes Ave. in the Bronx, guest preacher will be Rev. Samuel Vassell. Rev. Canon Calvin C. McIntyre will serve as officiant.

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