President Barack Obama formally announced on Wednesday that the country is ready to reconcile diplomatic relations with Cuba and re-open embassies in the nation’s capital.
Speaking at the Rose Garden, the President said the decision is historic as for more than 54 years, both countries had strained relations, resulting in the U.S.’ removal of its embassy in Havana in 1961.
Mr. Obama urged the Congress to abandon opposition in reconciling with Cuba as he believes the best way to support America’s values is to interact with Cubans. The President said the government has already taken measures in allowing for “greater travel, people-to-people and commercial ties between the United States and Cuba.”
“So I’d as Congress to listen to the Cuban people. Listen to the American people. Listen to the words of a proud Cuban American, Carlos Gutierrez, who recently came out against the policy of the past,” the President said.
According to Mr. Obama, the opening of the embassies will have a substantial role in dealing with mutual interests, including counter-terrorism, disaster response and development—which the President assured the U.S. will “find ways to cooperate with Cuba.”
He went further and said leaders throughout America support the decision and the public opinion surveys indicated strong mutual support for the engagement.
“Americans and Cubans alike are ready to move forward. I believe it is time for Congress to do the same. I’ve called on Congress to take steps to lift the embargo that prevents Americans from travelling or doing business in Cuba,” Mr. Obama said.
“We’ve already seen members from both parties begin that work. After all, why should Washington stand in the way of our own people?” the President continued.
Mr. Obama pointed out that the isolation policy does not work and “has not worked for 50 years” as it only “shuts America out of Cuba’s future, and it only makes life worse for the Cuban people.”
News that the U.S. is ready to make amend its diplomatic relations with Cuba emerged last year. According to the President, the initiative made leaders of both countries gather with their negotiation teams to negotiate re-opening of embassies.