Press Room: Press Releases

U.S. and Cuban Embassies Will Open This Month, President Obama Announces


July 1, 2015

U.S. and Cuban Embassies Will Open This Month, President Obama Announces

Washington, D.C.—In 1961, CIP Senior Fellow Wayne Smith witnessed as they took down the flag at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba. On July 20th, that flag will go back up, in the next step towards normalized relations between the two countries.

Embassies in Havana and Washington will open 54 years after diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed. These plans come six months after President Obama’s December announcement that the U.S. would restore full relations with Cuba. On May 29, Cuba was removed from the U.S. State Sponsors of Terror List.

The Center for International Policy (CIP) has played a crucial role in efforts to restore relations with Cuba. We commend the decision to reopen embassies as a major step in the best interests of both the U.S. and Cuban people. This is an important move forward, but there is still much work to continue U.S. engagement with Cuba.

CIP Cuba Program Director Elizabeth Newhouse noted, “while we must continue all efforts to lift the embargo, we strongly believe that President Obama has the authority to lift most of its elements and that a full legacy achievement on Cuba depends on his using it. It is futile to expect that a Republican-controlled Congress will do it for him in the 18 months remaining in his presidency."

CIP Senior Fellow Wayne Smith not only took down the flag in 1961, but was in Havana in December when the announcement was made that relations would be re-established. Smith has worked at the forefront of U.S.-Cuba policy for 56 years. He served as chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana from 1978-1982, and has since worked tirelessly to bring about a more sensible policy between the U.S. and Cuba.  He said: “It’s wonderful news. It is high time to reopen the U.S. embassy in Cuba. We are at last moving towards normal relations. At last under Obama it worked.”

CIP celebrates this important decision and strongly supports President Obama’s and President Castro’s efforts to promote a normalized relationship between the two countries. CIP is working to promote bilateral agreements that can be negotiated quickly and lead to stronger engagement while continuing to highlight actions President Obama can take using executive authority to expand trade and travel.

For more information on our analysis of U.S.-Cuba relations, see the following articles: 

Keep the U.S. Trade Embargo Against Cuba?

Squeezing Cuba

The U.S. Needs to Take Steps for Change Alongside Cuba

Reopening Channels of Communication with Cuba

Time to Re-Engage Cuba, At Last

A New Era in U.S.-Cuba Relations

For an interview with Wayne Smith or Elizabeth Newhouse, please contact Sarah Kinosian at:
(202) 232-3317