U.S., Cuba to make BFF announcement

The U.S. and Cuba are close to making an announcement outlining the restoration of diplomatic relations and opening of embassies, according to Reuters. The official word from the Obama Administration is expected in early July.

The two sides hope to conclude the deal by the first week of next month, clearing the way for secretary of state John Kerry to visit Havana soon afterwards for a flag-raising ceremony to upgrade the US interests section to a full-scale embassy, the sources said.

The two countries have been in talks since December, and the process to restore ties has been relatively smooth. Analysts say that one of the few issues that pose a problem during negotiations is Cuba’s poor civil rights record.

It has been over 50 years since the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba crumbled into animosity during the Cold War. Now it appears that both the Obama Administration and Cuban officials are eager to restore relations. Congress, on the other hand, is not so sure.

Congress has to get on board,” said professor Bruce Bagley, an expert in Cuban affairs at the University of Miami’s department of international studies.

“I doubt sincerely we will see any big budgetary moves before President Obama leaves office, certainly not enough to open an entire embassy. It’s not clear it can happen unless Congress approves the money.”

Congress alone controls not only the purse strings, but also the ability to end the trade embargo currently in place. So while many will welcome the anticipated July deal, there is a large asterisk tacked onto the announcement. Are the U.S. and Cuba going to be BFFs? We’ll see how the Republican controlled House and Senate feels.


[Reuters][The Guardian] [Image via Brian Blanco/Reuters]