In July 2015, Hillary Clinton became the first presidential candidate to call for Congress to lift the Cuban embargo. The move was significant because it was her husband, President Bill Clinton, who signed the embargo into federal statute through the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, and because it indicated just how much public opinion has changed in the last 20 years. In addition to directly addressing the Act, Clinton also wants more unrestricted travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens.
Administración evaluaría posible viaje de Obama a Cuba en 2016
By Nora Torres (El Nuevo Herald, July 22, 2015)
According to this article (available in Spanish), President Obama is considering a visit to Cuba before the end of his presidency, depending on the progress in diplomatic relations with the island and “how the Cubans behave.” The administration is also preparing a variety of new regulations related to U.S.-Cuban relations on topics such as visits to the island and financial transactions. The article also discusses the possible opening of a Cuban consulate in Miami, Florida.
U.S. Embassy in Cuba Reopens After More Than 50 Years
By Azam Ahmed (New York Times, July 20, 2015)
The U.S. officially reopened its embassy in Havana on July 20, after being closed for more than half a century, but many questions remain about the future of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, as well as about Cuba’s economic prospects.
Opinion: Beyond symbolism, restoring ties with Cuba has practical benefits
By William LeoGrande (Fox News Latino, July 1, 2015)
In response to President Obama’s announcement that Cuba and the U.S. would establish full diplomatic relations on July 20, LeoGrande argues that, beyond its symbolic value, this move brings practical benefits, allowing for better channels of communication between the two governments and greater freedom for diplomats to travel within the host country.
From the Post website: “A poll of residents on the island conducted by Bendixen and Amandi International for Univision Noticias and Fusion in collaboration with The Washington Post shows that people are unhappy with the political system, eager to end the U.S. embargo, divided about the Castro government, and disenchanted with their state-run economy.” Young people were the most dissatisfied with their government, but also the most optimistic for the future.
Cuban Dissidents to Attend Summit of the Americas with Message of Unity
(Bernama-NNN-EFE, April 2015)
EFE reports that Cuban dissident groups, claiming to represent “independent civil society,” have formed a coalition to promote their calls for reforms on the island. The dissidents’ “message of unity” focuses on two reform proposals: a new electoral law and a law of association and political parties. More than a dozen groups make up the coalition, including the Acro Progresista, the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) and the Front of Guillermo Farinas. They will be present at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, the first Summit that the Cuban government will attend following the thaw of diplomatic relations with the United States.
Obama gives the Castro regime in Cuba an undeserved bailout
By Washington Post Editorial Staff (Washington Post, December 18, 2014)
The Editorial Board condemns the Obama administration's "bailout" of the Castro regime, judging that, by doing so, the U.S. has lost any "leverage for political reforms" that would grant Cuban citizens basic human rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly. Although the island has been suffering greatly because of its current fragile economic situation, the liberalization will allow an influx of "desperately needed hard currency" without forcing Cuba to make any "meaningful political concessions."
By New York Times Editorial Staff (New York Times, December 2014)
Beginning with a call to action for the Obama administration to end the decades-old embargo, the New York Times published a series of editorials in the last quarter of 2014 that argued for the need to update U.S. policy toward Cuba. Topics highlighted include economic stagnation, censorship and human rights concerns faced by the Cuban people, along with the missed opportunities for productive collaboration. The series underscores steps the Obama administration could take toward reinstating diplomacy, and the potential positive impacts of dialogue for each nation.
U.S. Vote at UN on Embargo: Remarks at a UN General Assembly Meeting on the Cuba Embargo
(U.S. EMBASSY IN CUBA, OCTOBER 26, 2016)
UN Ambassador Samantha Power delivered an address on October 26, 2016 when she cast the first-ever U.S. abstention on the U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Ambassador Power called the historic change in vote a step forward in the relationship between the two nations. She praised the recent efforts to normalize relations between the two countries, while acknowledging that more progress should be made. Ambassador Power urged the Cuban government to respect the universal human rights of its citizens and called on other Member States of the UN to continue to speak out against violations of human rights.
Presidential Policy Directive - United States-Cuba Normalization
(White House Office of the Press Secretary, October 14, 2016)
The Obama Administration released a Presidential Policy Directive detailing plans to chart a new course with Cuba that would permit a freer exchange of commerce, information, and tourists. It cites the Administration’s hopes to work with the Cuban government to help confront growing challenges such as climate change, disease, and illicit trafficking. It described the embargo as an outdated burden that frequently has impeded U.S. interests. The directive shares the Administration’s plans for normalization; its assessment of the progress toward normalization; the current and the prospective political landscapes; the objectives for normalization; and the specific actions required to implement the Presidential Policy Directive.
Statement by the President on the Presidential Policy Directive on Cuba
(White House Office of the Press Secretary, October 14, 2016)
In an effort to make the opening of the U.S. to Cuba “irreversible,” President Obama approved a Presidential Policy Directive to take another step toward normalizing relations with Cuba. The Directive aimed to re-establish diplomatic relations, open embassies, expand travel and commerce, and take steps to increase the cooperative efforts of people from both nations.
Press Release: McGovern Announces Bipartisan Cuba Working Group
By Congressman Jim McGovern (House of Representatives, December 16, 2015)
One year after the December 17 announcements, this press release announced the formation of a bipartisan coalition of members of the House of Representatives aimed at advancing the normalization process between the United States and Cuba. Led by Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), the goal of the coalition is to raise awareness within Congress about the need for a new policy framework to advance the normalization process. To this end, the press release summarizes a letter written to Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi which outlines specific legislation that was introduced in 2015 including the Cuba Trade Act, the Cuba Digital and Telecommunications Advancement Act, the Cuba Agriculture Exports Act, and the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act. The release concludes with a summary of public opinion polls that reveal increasing public support for an end to the embargo; the coalition hopes to match this growing support through concrete legislative means.
Statement by Secretary of State John Kerry, at the Ceremony to Re-open the United States Embassy in Cuba
By John Kerry (Department of State, August 14, 2015)
In this speech, Kerry participates in the ceremony celebrating the raising of the American flag at the newly reopened American embassy in Havana. Kerry discussed the reasons for the fall-out of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations and the mutual cultural and economic benefits of re-establishing diplomatic ties between the two nations as well as the possibility for bi-lateral initiatives on issues of interest for both countries.
Secretary of State John Kerry Press Availability with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez
By John Kerry and Bruno Rodriguez (Department of State, August 14, 2015)
Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Rodriguez discuss the creation of a bi-lateral steering committee designed to define and issues in the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Foreign Minister Rodriguez called for the end to the blockade/embargo and the return of Guantanamo Naval Base land, while both officials emphasized human rights, the environment, and counter-narcotics. Both officials fielded questions on a range of topics from democracy promotion to U.S. migration policy.
Secretary of State John Kerry, Press Availability With Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez
By John Kerry (Department of State, July 20, 2015)
In this press conference, Kerry and Rodríguez discuss renewed U.S.-Cuban relations during the first visit to the Department of State by a Cuban foreign minister since 1958. Kerry reaffirmed that the “interests of both countries are better served by engagement than by estrangement,” while Rodríguez encouraged the dismantling of the blockade by the U.S. “not to pursue changes in Cuba, something that falls under [Cuba’s] exclusive sovereignty, but to attend the interests of U.S. citizens.” Other issues mentioned included the occupation of Guantanamo and the compensation to the Cuban people for human and economic damages.
Statement by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, at the Ceremony to Re-open the Cuban Embassy in United States
By Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla (CubaDebate, July 20, 2015)
In this speech, Rodríguez celebrates the raising of the Cuban flag at the newly reopened Cuban embassy, while emphasizing the Cuban’s people continuous struggle for national independence and full self-determination. He mentions obstructions to normalized relations, such as the blockade and Guantánamo, while reiterating his country’s intention of “developing respectful and cooperative relations between our peoples and governments.”
Statement by the President on the Re-Establishment of Diplomatic Relations with Cuba
By Barack Obama (White House, July 1, 2015)
In this statement, President Obama announced that, after nearly fifty-five years, the U.S. and Cuba would formally re-establish diplomatic relations and re-open embassies in their respective countries. Citing the previous policy’s failure, he stated that, “Instead of supporting democracy and opportunity for the Cuban people, our efforts to isolate Cuba despite good intentions increasingly had the opposite effect—cementing the status quo and isolating the United States from our neighbors in the hemisphere.”
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AT THE FIRST PLENARY SESSION OF THE SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS AT THE ATLAPA CONVENTION CENTER IN PANAMA CITY, PANAMA
BY PRESIDENT OBAMA (WHITE HOUSE, APRIL 11, 2015)
During a speech at the Summit of the Americas, President Obama urged his Latin American colleagues to acknowledge the momentousness of the opening of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, and also to focus on the future and not the past. He encouraged leaders of all countries to put aside their differences in order to work for universal rights to democracy, economic growth, reduction in inequality and poverty, and increased security that would decrease the drug and weapons trade while still ensuring human rights.
DISCURSO DEL GENERAL DE EJÉRCITO RAÚL CASTRO RUZ EN LA VII CUMBRE DE LAS AMÉRICAS
BY RAÚL CASTRO (MINREX, APRIL 12, 2015)
During his first visit to the Summit of the Americas, President Castro took the opportunity to voice both his frustrations with and hopes for hemispheric relations. Although Castro did not hesitate to highlight a history of U.S. abuses against Cuba during his speech, he also emphasized his personal respect for President Obama and hopes for normalized relations. Additionally, he expressed solidarity with countries facing outside interference, such as Venezuela, Argentina, and Ecuador, and called for the enactment of a “transparent and equitable financial system” in the region.
Remarks by President Obama at the Civil Society Forum
By Barack Obama (White House Office of the Press Secretary, April 10, 2015)
This press release contains President Obama’s speech at the first-ever gathering of civil society leaders at the Summit of the Americas. Obama thanked all in attendance for their “courageous work” in defending freedom and human rights, and added that he was “pleased to have Cuba represented” at the Summit for the first time. He spoke of a consensus throughout the hemisphere on issues of democracy, human rights, social development and social inclusiveness but acknowledged “strong differences” of opinion about the role of civil society.
Para mis compañeros de la Federación Estudiantil Universitaria (Letter by Fidel Castro)
By Fidel Castro (Granma, January 26, 2015)
This letter, published on the website of Granma, Cuba’s official state newspaper, is Fidel Castro’s reflections on the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. In the letter Castro write that he supports the rapprochement, but still distrusts the United States.
By Roberta Jacobson (U.S. Department of State, December 18, 2014)
This briefing includes remarks and a Q&A session with Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Topics discussed include an overview of the process to reestablish relations with Cuba, migration talks, and the reconsideration of Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. Questions from the press address hypothetical dates for policy implementation, migration, and the potential role of Guantanamo Bay.
President Obama’s historic speech announces the reinstatement of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations after a half-century of policies aimed at isolating Cuba. It outlines the U.S.’s commitment to normalize diplomatic relations in order to promote human rights in Cuba and advance the interests of both countries. It also highlights key aspects leading up to the development of the new policy, including talks with Raul Castro and Pope Francis, as well as the two countries’ agreement to exchange high-profile political prisoners, and a series of exceptions to the embargo intended to expand travel and trade with Cuba's private sector.
In this statement to the Cuban people, Castro outlines the Castro administration's perspective on the reinstatement of diplomatic relations with the United States. While emphasizing that socialist system will be maintained, Castro also acknowledges the need to update the current economic model in order to achieve a "prosperous and sustainable socialism." The president reiterates Cuba's willingness to reinstate relations with the U.S. and to participate in multilateral organizations such as the United Nations.
By John Kerry (U.S. Department of State, December 17, 2014)
Secretary of State Kerry concurs with President Obama's message that reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba is necessary to advance the interests of both countries. Kerry also notes that, along with his hope to be the first Secretary of State to visit Cuba in 60 years, his team will prioritize Cuban relations by initiating a review of its designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
White House Fact Sheet on Charting a New Course on Cuba
(White House, December 17, 2014)
This Fact Sheet outlines specific measures for implementing the normalization of US-Cuban relations. Among other areas, it emphasizes the re-establishment of an embassy in Havana and diplomatic engagement on areas of mutual concern, as well as the adjustment of trade and travel regulations and a review of Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
By Brian P. Hale, Director of Public Affairs (Office of the Director of National Intelligence, December 17, 2014)
This statement signals the release of an unnamed Cuban individual, subsequently identified by the press as Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, as part of the prisoner exchange central to the US-Cuban relations thaw. The individual had been instrumental to several espionage prosecutions in the US and spent many years in a Cuban prison.
Upon returning home after five years of imprisonment in Cuba, Gross expresses gratitude to all those who worked to make his homecoming possible, mentioning by name President Obama and many other family members, friends, and supporters. Gross also speaks of his continued respect for the Cuban people, his disapproval of what he terms to be the "mutually belligerent" U.S. and Cuban policies, and his support for President's Obama's opening to Cuba.
Communiqué of the Secretariat of State for the Vatican
(The Vatican, December 17, 2014)
The Official Statement given by the Vatican expresses gratitude to the administrations of the Republic of Cuba and of the United States for their efforts to reestablish diplomatic relations. It confirms the role of the Holy See in the negotiations and its reiterates his continuing support of humanitarian efforts and conflict resolution between the two nations.
Chairman Menendez's Statement on U.S.–Cuba Relationship
By Robert Menendez (U.S. Senate, December 17, 2014)
Senator Robert Menendez of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee opposes the Obama Administration's decision to reinstate diplomatic relations with Cuba. Among other arguments, he claims that reinstating diplomatic relations will not address the authoritarian control exercised over the Cuban people for the past 55 years. Menendez also opposes regulatory changes and economic measures that he considers to be "an economic lifeline" for the regime, and he questions the proposed review of Cuba's designation on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
This article summarizes former Secretary of State Clinton's support for the Obama administration's policy shift toward normalized relations with Cuba. Clinton emphasizes her view that the prior U.S. policy of isolation and embargo failed to deter the Castro administration or to effectively support the Cuban people. She also expresses relief over the release of Alan Gross, whose imprisonment in Cuba was a concern during her administration.
Rubio Comments on Reports of Change in U.S. Policy toward Cuba, Release of Alan Gross
By Marco Rubio (U.S. Senate, December 17, 2014)
In this press release, Senator Marco Rubio expresses his disapproval of the thaw in U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations. He accuses the Obama administration of basing the new policy (which, in his opinion, is an appeasement to rogue regimes) on U.S. economic interests and not the interests of the Cuban people. Rubio also states his intent to block reinstated relations with Cuba in his role as the incoming Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Western Hemisphere subcommittee.
Statement: Governor Jeb Bush on President Obama's Cuba Policy Announcement
By Jeb Bush (Facebook Notes, December 17, 2014)
In a Facebook communication to his followers, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush responds to the Obama administration's decision to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba, calling it a "foreign policy misstep" and maintaining that the new strategy does not address either Cuba's disastrous human rights record or the oppression faced by the Cuban people under the Castro regime.