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Cuba-US relations: Embassies, Flags and Big Business

Cuba and the US agreed on the formal restoration of full diplomatic relations and also announced the reopening of embassies in both countries at the end of the month.

Celeste Murillo

July 2, 2015
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President Barack Obama confirmed on July 1 that the US will reopen its embassy in Havana. This announcement came after the both Obama and Raul Castro had confirmed US and Cuba would and restore full diplomatic relations.

Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Havana for the opening, and, at the same time, Cuban officials affirmed the country will reopen its embassy in Washington on July 20, 2015.

The presidents

Speaking at the Rose Garden, Obama declared that “A year ago, it might’ve seemed impossible that the United States would once again be raising our flag – the stars and stripes – over an embassy in Havana.”
Cuba’s president Raul Castro said in a formal letter, “Cuba is encouraged by the intention of both countries to develop respectful and cooperative relations between our two peoples and governments.”

The role of big business

As always, business interests are behind the scenes of these diplomatic agreements. Even though eliminating the full embargo would require a vote from Congress, many US corporations are pushing for the opening of business opportunities in Cuba.
A few weeks ago, the launch of Engage Cuba, a bipartisan coalition, financed by companies like Cargill, Procter & Gamble and Caterpillar, was announced at a Washington pub. At the event was Roberta Jacobson, a top diplomatic official from the administration who leads Obama’s negotiation team with Cuba. Political talks may be hard and complicated, but businesses are clearly in the fast lane.

The Pope

The Pope has played a major role in this process. The Vatican’s blessing on the Cuban government’s course will be affirmed in the September visit when Pope Bergoglio will officially visit the island, before continuing his journey to the United States. The Castro government has deepened its agreements with the Catholic church, that is offering its support “from outside” for the reforms carried out by the bureaucracy.

Interested in Cuba-US relations? Read Cuba: Times of a “thaw” with imperialism

This article was based on the previously-published articles from La Izquierda Diario:

Cuba y Estados Unidos: embajadas, banderas y negocios

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Celeste Murillo

Celeste is a leader of the Socialist Workers' Party (PTS) and a founder of the women's group Pan y Rosas (Bread and Roses) in Argentina. She is a host of the radio program El Círculo Rojo where she focusses on culture and gender.

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