Castro’s flag now flies over the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., as diplomatic relations were restored between the United States and its Cold War nemesis.
At the stroke of midnight, records will show both nations became full diplomatic partners — a quiet evolution after decades of high drama that included the failed Bay of Pigs invasion seeking to unseat a young Fidel Castro, the missile standoff with Cuba’s Soviet sponsors that tested President John F. Kennedy and boatloads of desperate refugees trying to reach Florida’s shores.
Monday’s events culminate President Obama’s stunning declaration in December of America’s intent to reverse its isolation and embargo policies against Cuba, whose pro-American regime fell before Obama was even born.The move followed secret talks between the countries that led to Cuba’s release of an American government contractor, Alan Gross, and freedom for the remaining members of an alleged Cuban spy ring held in the United States.
Many points of friction still remain. Trade embargoes and travel limitations by the United States must clear Congress, where some Republicans strongly oppose the rapprochement with Havana. Cuban leaders, meanwhile, face potentially difficult decisions on how far and fast to open to U.S. businesses and American culture.