Despite being neighbors, since 1961, the US and Cuba have had no diplomatic relations. Instead, a bitterness has defined the relationship between the two countries because of Cuba’s communist ideologies.
The US had enforced a commercial, financial and economic embargo (ban on trade) with Cuba that prevented US corporations from doing business in that country.
However, matters began to thaw in 2006 when Raul Castro took over as President of Cuba. He realized that for Cuba’s economic progress, it was necessary for the Government to step aside. Since then, with Cuba’s many political and social reforms, their relationship has accelerated towards better understanding and more cordial political and economic relations between the two countries.
Since the beginning of President Barack Obama’s presidency, efforts have been underway to re-open trade between the countries. July 1, 2015, was a historic day as the two nations have agreed to open embassies - Cuba will set up its embassy in Washington DC while the US will open its embassy in Havana. This is a significant step in the relationship between the two countries.
US-Cuba Relations In The Past
After World War II, countries around the world either allied themselves with the United States or the Soviet Union. This was the time of the Cold War. Fearing the spread of communism throughout the world, the US and its allies embarked to stop its spread.
In 1959 Cuba faced a revolt when Fidel Castro took over the country. Castro ordered the takeover of farmlands, banks and private institutions - most of which were under the control of US companies. He established a “socialist” order where everyone worked for the state. Cuba allied itself with Russia and adopted a communist ideology. Prior to the Cold War, the US had a big presence in Cuba. Although the Cold War ended in 1991, US-Cuban relations continued to remain tense.
Since the thawing of relations, the US has released captives of Cuba, agreed to increase trade and travel between the two countries, and reopen diplomatic relations.
Embassies And Their Importance
Opening an embassy in another country is symbolic of a cordial relationship between two nations. Embassies serve as the center for a country’s diplomatic affairs with another nation. Take, for instance, the United States. It has embassies in all the countries with whom it trusts.
Located within the boundary of the friendly country, and usually, in the nation’s capital, an embassy serves as the US headquarters in that country. Similarly, other countries such as Canada, France, India, etc, reciprocate and have embassies within the United States.
If you are a citizen of the US and visiting France, going to the US embassy in Paris is like going to your home country. The host country, where the embassy is located does not have jurisdiction over the land occupied by the embassy as it is considered a sovereign land of the guest nation.
Besides generating trust and friendship between the two nations, embassies display strong relations and growth in their diplomatic affairs. Reopening their embassies in each other’s capital cities is a sign that the relationship between Cuba and the US are on course for better and closer ties.