Hundreds of Cubans mixed with American tourists outside the former U.S. Interests Section, newly emblazoned with the letters “Embassy of the United States of America”.
Kerry, speaking before assembled dignitaries, remembered the strained history of U.S.-Cuba relations, including the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when the Soviet Union was discovered to be siting nuclear rockets on the island nation.
Hours before, the U.S. secretary of state presided over the official inauguration ceremony of his country’s embassy in the Cuban capital, to which neither representatives of civil society nor members of the opposition were invited.
While some Cubans wondered about their own government, others doubted the United States was ready to change and said it had little credibility on human rights issues.
Even worse, Soler said, was the fact that on the same day, four supporters of the Ladies in White were arrested in Havana for putting up a poster calling for the release of all political prisoners.
It notes his service in Vietnam, his presidential run and work as secretary of state.
“The message is, No. 1, that we believe our engaging in direct diplomatic relations with the Cuban government being there, being able to interact with the people of Cuba, will in fact help the people of Cuba“, he said.
The poem called “Matters of the Sea“, or “Cosas del Mar“, refers to the 90 miles of water between Cuba and the U.S. that serves both to separate and unite people.
The U.S., she said, “must decide between engagement and embargo, between embracing fresh thinking and returning to Cold War deadlock”. “It’s time to unfurl our flags and let the world know we wish each other well”.
Buildings surrounding the embassy grounds were draped in large Cuban flags; however, the numerous flag posts around the area laid bare save one Cuban flag.
The weapons are too many and too varied – shooters and passers and defenders, bigs who run the floor like gazelles – and Canada continues to lay waste to the field at the FIBA Americas women’s Olympic basketball qualifier.
Kerry said Cuba and the US were moving on a path without illusions but confident in the contacts they had made knowing they were a people who were no longer enemies or rivals but neighbours.
Many Cubans disagree with that assessment, including Afro-Cubans who say discrimination is still rampant despite the revolution’s egalitarian ideals. In the middle of those economic pressures, the new generation raised new requests and the generational shift created more social problems.
“On the other hand”, he continued, “maybe what we are seeing is an important change of strategy by which the U.S. now is saying, “OK, there is a legitimate government in Cuba”.
The first official visit of a yacht to Cuba, backed by US law, was conducted last week by the American freight operator Paul Madden.
“We shouldn’t have diplomatic relations with a government that gives the Russians and Chinese a base of operations to spy electronically against us”.
“What happened yesterday was transcendental, that’s true”, said Rolando Quevedo, a 67-year-old retired driver for a state company. “We’re not sure what we can say anymore without getting in trouble”.
KELEMEN: State Department officials insist that at least it’s better than before.