The White House released a statement today, announcing that the complicated history between Cuba and the United States is about to change. The change, described as one of the most significant policy changes in the past fifty years, seeks to end what President Barack Obama sees as an outdated approach.
“Neither the American, nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born,” said Obama. “Consider that for more than 35 years, we’ve had relations with China –- a far larger country also governed by a Communist Party. Nearly two decades ago, we reestablished relations with Vietnam, where we fought a war that claimed more Americans than any Cold War confrontation.”
The announcement comes on the heels of the homecoming of U.S. citizen and USAID sub-contractor Alan Gross, who was wrongfully imprisoned in Cuba for five years.
“Over many months, my administration has held discussions with the Cuban government about Alan’s case, and other aspects of our relationship,” said President Obama. “His Holiness Pope Francis issued a personal appeal to me, and to Cuba’s President Raul Castro, urging us to resolve Alan’s case, and to address Cuba’s interest in the release of three Cuban agents who have been jailed in the United States for over 15 years.”
President Obama added that the United States will reestablish an embassy in Havana, increase tourism and commerce, and also review Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
The President’s announcement did not come without controversy. Cuban-American Republican Senator Marco Rubio called the deal “disgraceful”.
“I’m committed to doing everything I can to unravel as many of these changes as I can,” he said. “I intend to use every tool at our disposal in the majority [in the Senate] to unravel as many of these changes as possible.”
“Change is hard,” said President Obama. “Today, America chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past so as to reach for a better future –- for the Cuban people, for the American people, for our entire hemisphere, and for the world.”