Cuba re-opens Washington embassy after half century; Rubio call occasion ‘deeply troubling’

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Cuba raised its flag at its newly designated embassy in Washington, D.C. on July 20, officially restoring relations with the United States after 50 years.

At the flag-raising ceremony, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said the U.S. must lift the trade embargo and return Guantanamo Bay to Cuba for the restoration of relations to have any meaning.

Cuban embassy re-opening ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Cuban embassy re-opening ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Rodriguez was the first Cuba foreign minister to hold such a ceremony in Washington since September 1958, when John Foster Dulles was secretary of state to President Dwight Eisenhower.

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who is running for his party’s presidential nomination,” called the event “deeply troubling.”

“Cuba is not just some small island with old cars; it is a country controlled by a despotic regime that provides a safe haven and base of forward operations to Russia and China in our own hemisphere. It harbors terrorists and fugitives from justice who have killed American citizens and brutalizes peaceful pro-democracy activists. I reiterate my promise to block the confirmation of any ambassador to this despicable regime.”

In his remarks, Rodriguez said, “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.”

President Dwight Eisenhower broke off relations with Cuba in 1961 following the revolutionary insurrection by Fidel Castro.

President Barack Obama is said to be reluctant to nominate an ambassador to Cuba due to expected opposition in the Senate. The U.S. embassy in Havana will be run by the chief of mission at the interests section, Jeffrey DeLaurentis.

On July 19, Rubio, the son of Cuban emigres, said that if elected he would shut down the Cuban embassy.

“I would end diplomatic relations with an anti-American, communist tyranny until such time as they actually held a democratic opening in Cuba,” Rubio told CNN.

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