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Mon Dec 11, 2017, 05:40 PM

US Embassy in Cuba should not be a foreign relations pawn Opinion

Ralph Patino
DECEMBER 11, 2017 3:00 PM

By Jan. 3, 1961, the New York Yankees had won the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds and the U.S. State Department had lost its prize jewel of the Caribbean — Cuba.

On that day, a crisp Sunday morning, a cool breeze blew in from the Atlantic, bouncing off Havana’s Malecon seawall and onto the U.S. Embassy’s green lawn. There, U.S. Charge’ d Affaires Daniel M. Braddock, dressed in his customary white linen suit and accompanied by three U.S. Marines, walked over to "Old Glory" waving in all her splendor in the Caribbean trade winds. Acting on orders of President Eisenhower, they retrieved the U.S. flag, which could not be raised again at the site.

Some 56 years later, on Dec. 17, 2014, President Obama announced a change in U. S. policy toward Cuba, including greater engagement and the resumption of U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations, and the opening of respective embassies in Washington D.C. and Havana. The president’s action carried the support of the majority of the U.S. Cuban diaspora and the American people.

On July 20, 2015, another sunny and crisp Sunday morning, three Marines stood by as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry raised the American flag to its full regalia outside the U.S. Embassy in Havana. The act symbolized a positive shift in the future relations of both countries. The optimism was as palpable as the ocean breeze that caressed an excited crowd, including thousands of Cubans watching from nearby apartment balconies and rooftops.

For many of Cuba’s 11 million residents, the hoisting of the U.S. flag meant the United States was “back” and their quality of life would soon change. President Obama’s brief but much-celebrated visit to Cuba that March underscored a sense of empowerment and hope for the beleaguered island residents.


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