Washington, D.C. — After more than half a century of lingering enmity came a highly anticipated end to the Cold War between the US and Cuba.
On Monday, both the US and Cuba restored full diplomatic relations after severing diplomatic ties in 1961.
On July 20 of this year, an agreement between the two nations to resume normal ties came into effect just after midnight when the diplomatic missions of each were upgraded from interests to embassies.
It’s been five decades since President John F. Kennedy and Fidel Castro had a falling out over Soviet expansion in the Americas. While the US maintains a commercial, economic and financial embargo, making it illegal for American corporations to do business with Cuba, the US diplomatic representation in Cuba is dealt with by US Interests Sections in Havana. There is a similar Cuban Interests Section in Washington.
Minus a ceremony, maintenance workers were to hang the Cuban flag among the other nations in which the US has diplomatic relations, in the lobby of the State Department. Later Monday, Cuban officials will formally inaugurate their embassy in Washington where the flag will fly for the first time since 1961.
The US Interests Section in Havanna will announce its upgrade to embassy in a written statement, but the flag will not fly until August, when Secretary of State, John Kerry, visits for a ceremonial flag-raising.
Conrad Tribble, deputy chief of mission for the United States in Havana, tweeted: “Just made first phone call to State Dept. Ops Center from United States Embassy Havana ever. It didn’t exist in Jan 1961.”
“It’s a historic moment,” said longtime Cuban diplomat and analyst Carlos Alzugaray.
“The significance of opening the embassies is that trust and respect that you can see, both sides treating the other with trust and respect,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be conflicts — there are bound to be conflicts — but the way that you treat the conflict has completely changed.”