Photo: A Cuban gives the thumbs up from his balcony decorated with the US and Cuban flags in Havana, on January 16, 2015. The United States will ease travel and trade restrictions with Cuba on Friday, marking the first concrete steps towards restoring normal ties with the Cold War-era foe since announcing a historic rapprochement. YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images

The American Flag Will Fly in Cuba Today

Cuba Travel
by Peter Gelling Aug 14, 2015

For more than half a century, Cuba has been America’s enemy. Diplomacy between the two governments was nonexistent. Relations were marked by distrust, fear, aggression, embargoes, and “crazy assassination plots.” Well, sorry, but those exciting days are now all over.

Today, Secretary of State John Kerry — the first US Secretary of State to visit Cuba in 70 years — will witness the raising of the American flag over the newly opened US Embassy in Havana. It’s the final step in a process that began in December when US President Barack Obama announced that Cuba and the United States would work toward normalizing ties.

The day will be dripping with symbolism. The very same Marines who lowered the American flag in Havana 54 years ago will be there today to see it raised again. Outside the embassy there are no protests, no threatening gestures. There are only lines of Cubans, waiting to apply for visas to visit the United States.

And thus brings an end to one of the last remnants of the Cold War. The US broke off ties with Cuba in 1961 largely because the country aligned itself with the Soviet Union. Re-establishing ties with Cuba will go down as one of Obama’s most important foreign policy moves.

Like Cuba, Iran has for decades also been one of America’s classic enemies. There was a time when the villain in any Hollywood movie was likely to be either Cuban or Iranian. Kerry and Obama are close to improving ties with Iran now, as well. Kerry brokered a deal that could potentially be the start of a whole new era of cooperation between the two countries.

The Iran deal has to get past a skeptical Congress first, though. But if it does, or if Obama forces it through with a veto, he will have ushered forth two major — world-changing, even — diplomatic achievements during his tenure as president.

By Peter Gelling, Global Post

This article is syndicated from Global Post.

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