Last night, at the stroke of midnight, crowds gathered as Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez presided over the flag-raising ceremony hours after full diplomatic relations with the United States were restored after an agreement to resume ties went into effect today, July 20, 2015. It marks the start of a new post-Cold War era, ending a breakup that has lasted since President Dwight D. Eisenhower cut ties with the country in 1961.
Several hundred people gathered this afternoon in our nation’s capital as the Cuban flag was raised in front of the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. for the first time in 54 years.
President Obama has been trying to improve relations with Cuba ever since he first took office, but all of his attempts were frustrated until last December when Cuba released Alan Gross, an American government subcontractor, who was arrested in December of 2009 for smuggling satellite equipment to Cuba as part of a U.S. government pro-democracy program. Following Gross’ return home the US also released the remaining three members of the Cuban Five, five Cuban intelligence officers who were arrested in September 1998 and later convicted in Miami of conspiracy to commit espionage.
On Dec. 17, Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced they would resume full diplomatic relations and on July 1, the US and Cuba agreed that relations would fully reopen today, July 20.