Former ambassadors, murderous guerrilla icons, and even folk singers have descended upon Washington, D.C. today to celebrate the raising of the Cuban flag over the newly-minted embassy of the communist dictatorship in America.
Cuban state media is treating the event, which has no analog at the American embassy in Havana, as a victory over the American people.
The State Department has raised the Cuban flag over the new embassy in Washington, D.C. while the American embassy remains barren in Havana, though operating officially as an embassy. It released its first press release today as an official embassy and not the Office of American Interests. It will be run by interim head Jeffrey DeLaurentis as Congress gears up to oppose the appointment of any ambassador to the communist dictatorship so long as the Castro regime continues to flagrantly violate human rights.
— Embajada EE.UU. Cuba (@USEmbCuba) July 20, 2015
The short press release pales in fanfare to the celebration in Washington, D.C. The Cuban dictatorship sent a large delegation of representatives to celebrate the flag-raising. In addition to Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Raúl Castro sent former National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcón, Havana’s head historian Eusebio Leal, painter Alexis Leyva, former terrorist Ramón Pez Ferro, and folk singer Silvio Rodriguez. Roberta Jacobson, who headed talks with to reestablish the embassy in Havana earlier this year, led the State Department delegation in lieu of Secretary of State John Kerry, who is expected to make a visit to Havana for an analogous ceremony at the end of the summer.
Granma, the official propaganda outlet for the Cuban government, is treating the ceremony as a victory for the communist revolution. In an article quoting the various members of the delegation to D.C., a number of them described the flag-raising ceremony as analogous to a military victory against America. Pez Ferro, who participated in the 1953 attack on the Moncada military barracks that made Fidel Castro a nationally-recognized terrorist, told Granma that the flag-raising ceremony proves the communists “were in the right.” “This confirms that former policies were a failure,” he states, as well as “the recognition of the resistance of a country that did not cede to pressure despite not being a great power like its rival.”
“The Cuban people are the heroes of this great battle,” added Miguel Barnet, another member of the delegation. Yunidis Castillo, a Paralympic athlete also joining the group in Washington, called the flag-raising “a victory for our people.”
These statements echo those of dictator Raúl Castro, who declared in December, following the announcement of new relations with the United States, “now we have really won the war.” Castro has vowed to offer the United States “nothing in return” for diplomacy, least of all the release of prisoners of conscience or an end to the oppressive policies that ban any political activity not controlled by the Communist Party.
Those most intimately familiar with the workings of the communist Cuban regime in Congress– its Cuban-American members– issued a statement in March warning that any Cuban embassy in the United State would be a national security risk, as it would serve as an espionage outpost at the service of rival states like China and Russia. “We are all too familiar with the Castro regime’s efforts to utilize their diplomats as intelligence agents tasked with the goal of committing espionage against their host countries… allowing Cuba to open an embassy in Washington, D.C. or consulates will further open the door for their espionage activities,” they wrote.