History made in Havana: American Flag Raised Havana

Published: August 14, 2015

History made in Havana: American Flag Raised Havana, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for an end to “mutual isolation” and issued an impassioned plea for democracy in Cuba as the American flag was raised outside the recently reopened U.S. Embassy here Friday for the first time in 54 years.

“The time is now to reach out to one another as two peoples who are no longer enemies or rivals but neighbors,” said Kerry, who oversaw the event that followed a similar flag-raising ceremony last month outside the Cuban Embassy in Washington. “It is time to unfurl our flags, raise them up and let the world know that we wish each other well.”

The flag raising represents the latest step in the changing relationship between the two nations since President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced an end to the diplomatic freeze in December. On Friday, Kerry applauded the two leaders for their “courageous decision” and thanked Pope Francis, who helped facilitate a dialog between the two nations and will visit Cuba next month before traveling to the U.S.

To help raise the flag, American officials brought back three of the U.S. Marines who lowered it in 1961 when the U.S. cut off ties with Cuba at the peak of the Cold War.

“For our nations, today represents the beginning of a new chapter” and a key step in normalizing relations, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the chief U.S. diplomat in Havana, said in opening remarks. Kerry called it a “historic moment” and a “day for pushing aside old barriers and exploring new possibilities.”

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