President Obama on Wednesday ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba and the opening of an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century as he vowed to “cut loose the shackles of the past” and sweep aside one of the last vestiges of the Cold War.

The surprise announcement came at the end of 18 months of secret talks that produced a prisoner swap negotiated with the help of Pope Francis and concluded by a telephone call between Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro. The historic deal broke an enduring stalemate between two countries divided by just 90 miles of water but oceans of mistrust and hostility dating from the days of Theodore Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill and the nuclear brinkmanship of the Cuban missile crisis.

“We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” Mr. Obama said in a nationally televised statement from the White House. The deal, he added, will “begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas” and move beyond a “rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.”

It’s impossible to go back to a trusting relationship between America and Cuba until there is respect for Cuban sovereignty and can respectfully talks on how to resolve economic disputes, Gloria La Riva, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, told RT.

RT: What, in your opinion, would be the outcome if the relations between the US and Cuba normalize?

GLR: If the relations are normalized and the US blockade is ended I think both peoples will benefit greatly, most of all Cuba, because Cuba is a country that is blockaded, unable to trade normally with the world because the US blockade imposes its means and sanctions on other countries and other corporations. But the American people will benefit as well. Because there is medicine that Cuba produces that the American people could benefit from, there is a need for jobs, and employment from the stimulated economy in the US and trade with Cuba. The end of these hostile relations imposed by the US government and the need for our peoples to get to know each other more, I think that there is a vast majority of Americans who would love to travel to Cuba and learn about its society from which we had been prohibited for too many years.


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