Secretary of State John Kerry came to Cuba on Friday and raised the American flag above the U.S. Embassy for the first time in 54 years.
“Thank you for joining us at this truly historic moment as we prepare to raise the flag … symbolizing the restoration of diplomatic relations after 54 years,” Kerry said at the ceremony, addressing the crowd in both English and Spanish.
Kerry’s visit marks the symbolic end of one of the last vestiges of the Cold War. But signs of mistrust linger, and beyond the pomp and circumstance lies a long road back from more than half a century of diplomatic animosity.
On Thursday, Cuban state media put out an article in the name of Fidel Castro, writing on the occasion of his 89th birthday, in which he made no reference to the historic resumption of U.S.-Cuba relations but instead waxed on about the damage the American embargo has caused Cuba and the anniversary of the United States dropping an atomic bomb on Japan.
The rhetoric from the leader of the Cuban revolution, and the face of anti-U.S. resistance, is not unexpected. But it underscores the long-standing tensions at play as Washington and Havana work to thaw the decadeslong chill in relations.
Even Kerry’s brief visit reflects the complexities of opening a new chapter of engagement with the Cuban government.
He is accompanied by a number of U.S. lawmakers who have advocated normalizing diplomatic and economic relations with the island. Several Cuban-Americans also are part of the delegation.