Cuban embassy reopens in Washington with flag-raising ceremony

‘Star & Stripes’ to follow in Havana next month during visit by John Kerry

Good news out of Washington on Monday, as a thaw in relations between the United States and Cuba saw a Cuban flag formally raised over Havana’s embassy in the US capital for the first time in 54 years.

The embassy opening means restored relations between America and what is essentially still a totalitarian state 90 miles from Florida, although there’s optimism that the latest — and major — rapprochement will accelerate an improvement in political and economic conditions in the island nation.

According to Reuters, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez presided over the reopening of the embassy, a milestone in the diplomatic thaw that began with an announcement US President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro last December.

“The historic events we are living today will only make sense with the removal of the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes so much deprivation and damage to our people, the return of occupied territory in Guantanamo, and respect for the sovereignty of Cuba,” Rodriguez said.

Fidel Castro last visited the stately building just months after he seized power from the Batista regime in Cuba in 1959.

In Havana, the US embassy was also reopened for business but without any of the pomp and circumstance of the D.C. ceremony.

“Old Glory”, however, will not be raised into the Havana sky until an official visit to the island by US Secretary of State John Kerry, scheduled for Aug. 14.