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August 17, 2015

Secretary Kerry Rravels to Cuba to Re-open US Embassy Havana

Earlier this week, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cuba for a ceremony to formally re-open U.S. Embassy Havana. This visit marks the first time a U.S. Secretary of State has stepped on Cuban soil in 70 years.

Prior to the American flag being raised at U.S. Embassy Havana, Secretary Kerry delivered remarks, highlighting the benefits brought about through the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

From Secretary Kerry's speech:

"The establishment of normal diplomatic relations is not something that one government does as a favor to another; it is something that two countries do together when the citizens of both will benefit. And in this case, the reopening of our embassies is important on two levels: People-to-people and government-to-government.

"First, we believe it's helpful for the people of our nations to learn more about each other, to meet each other. That is why we are encouraged that travel from the United States to Cuba has already increased by 35 percent since January and is continuing to go up. We are encouraged that more and more U.S. companies are exploring commercial ventures here that would create opportunities for Cuba's own rising number of entrepreneurs, and we are encouraged that U.S. firms are interested in helping Cuba expand its telecommunications and internet links, and that the government here recently pledged to create dozens of new and more affordable Wi-Fi hotspots."

"We also want to acknowledge the special role that the Cuban American community is playing in establishing a new relationship between our countries. And in fact, we have with us this morning representatives from that community, some of whom were born here and others who were born in the United States. With their strong ties of culture and family, they can contribute much to the spirit of bilateral cooperation and progress that we are seeking to create, just as they have contributed much to their communities in their adopted land."

"The restoration of diplomatic ties will also make it easier for our governments to engage. After all, we are neighbors, and neighbors will always have much to discuss in such areas as civil aviation, migration policy, disaster preparedness, protecting marine environment, global climate change, and other tougher and more complicated issues. Having normal relations makes it easier for us to talk, and talk can deepen understanding even when we know full well we will not see eye to eye on everything."

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