President Obama announced his plans to re-open an American embassy in Cuba, indicating that he would send Secretary of State John Kerry to “proudly raise” the American flag above Havana.
Obama noted that his action was a “historic step forward” to normalize relations with Cuba, even though the country hasn’t changed its record of civil rights abuses.
Obama reminded critics that there were only 90 miles between the U.S. and Cuba, and that our countries are united with “deep bonds of family and friendship between our people.” He insisted there is “enormous enthusiasm” for his changes on Cuba policy, including in public opinion polls and from Americans who want to travel to the communist country.
“We don’t have to be imprisoned by the past,” Obama said, adding that more than 50 years of diplomatic isolation of Cuba hadn’t changed its policies.
“A year ago it might have seemed impossible to see the American flag raised over embassy in Havana,” he added. “This is what change looks like.”
The president made a short statement in the Rose Garden with a silent Vice President Joe Biden and returned to the Oval Office without answering a shouted question of whether or not he planned to travel to Cuba as president.