President Barack Obama is set to announce that the U.S. and Cuba will reopen their embassies. (Enrique de la Osa/Reuters)
President Barack Obama will announce on Wednesday that the United States and Cuba have reached an agreement to resume diplomatic relations and reopen embassies shuttered after the 1959 revolution that swept Fidel Castro to power.
“We will formally announce tomorrow that the United States and Cuba have reached an agreement to re-establish formal diplomatic relations and open embassies in each other’s capitals,” a senior administration official told Yahoo News.
Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will announce the shift – part of the president’s drive to wipe away Cold War-era tensions with Havana – on Wednesday, the official said. Successfully brokering an end to the longstanding rift will require more work, but would be a legacy-defining move for Obama.
He faces stiff resistance in the U.S. Congress to lifting the trade embargo that Washington imposed shortly after Castro took power. The embargo, a response to Castro nationalizing U.S. assets and aligning Havana with Moscow, has been widely judged a failure because it not only failed to drive the Cuban leader from power but gave him an excuse for economic hardships.
The United States and Cuba have diplomatic representation in each other’s capitals. They operate “interests sections,” under the protection of Switzerland, that do not have an ambassador. The two countries broke off diplomatic relations in 1961.