Announcing Cuba Embassy Deal, Obama Declares ‘New Chapter’

President Obama declared Wednesday that the two nations were ready to reopen embassies in each other’s capitals and to start a “new chapter” of engagement.

Comments: 168

  1. Thank you, Obama Administration, for realizing a long-awaited goal and saying goodbye to 20th Century geopolitics.

  2. This is wonderful news!

    Can't wait to visit Cuba

  3. I can hear the Repubs howling now: But they are Communists! They are repressive! There is no democracy! To that I say: So are China and Vietnam!

  4. And yet, Presidential candidates like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz howl at this international thaw, as if the Cuba policy was going to work one of these days.

  5. "Haters are always gonna hate!

  6. So grateful that we have a president who has the courage to take this long overdue step.

  7. Finally some genuinely good news to celebrate on the foreign policy front. Well done, President Obama and Secretary Kerry!

  8. As someone smarter than me once said, and I Quote:
    "We used to be different and now we are the same."
    Different is not good, same is.

  9. This is a great coup for the President! It is difficult to understand that the party of naysayers in the Congress want to derail this rapprochement.

  10. It's about time! Thank you Mr. Obama. Finally a sensible man in the White House.

  11. Republicans are once again showing their disdain for any policy Obama promotes, regardless of merit. To critique the President for "rewarding" Cuban inaction on human rights is disingenuous when we consider the lack of progress made in the past 50 years via embargoes.
    Would they be content to have more of the same or would the announcement of another invasion attempt help gain Republican support?

  12. Republican attitudes towards Cuba policy have been consistent for years -- they have always opposed normalization. So to say they are against normalization just because Obama is now in favor of it -- is just plain wrong.

  13. When a nation's people are severely punished for decades by an embargo, shouldn't we ask who the human rights violator actually is?

  14. When a nation's people are severely punished for decades by an embargo, shouldn't we ask who the human rights violator actually is?


    Cuba can trade with any country in the world other than the US and has been able to do so since the end of the Cold War. If Cubans are poor, it's because the Castro brothers want them to be. The US embargo has very little to do with the Cuban economic situation

  15. The demonization of Castro led to 60 years of hostility. The Platt Amendment and the United Fruit Company are long gone. The CIA was not able to kill Fidel. Castro became the darling of the Third World uprisings against the imperialist powers. His close ties with the USSR served as a constant reminder of the nuclear armed standoff with the US. In the end the drug dealers won the war as Cuba declined after the fall of the USSR. Noriega, Daniel Ortega, Oliver North and Castro used drugs to fund their activities. Now it is time for the US to get past its vindictive embargo that has lasted long beyond its necessity. Its time to move beyond Castro the bogey man and the Cold War.

  16. We must not forget that Cuba sought ties with the USSR only after several attempts by the United States to assassinate him and overturn his government failed.

  17. As I recollect, it was after Eisenhower reduced the sugar-import quota.

  18. Cuba's ties with the USSR have been ongoing and very nefarious. The beauty of this scheme is it allows the US to be a "savior" of sorts at at time when the Russian economy has been hit by the oil price drops---and Venezuela has been all but decimated by such too.

    In extending this olive branch to a newly weekend Cuba, Obama brilliantly brought into the fold our most poisonous thorn on our side. Never overtly dangerous, always the potential to grow dangerous, now firmly aligned and soon endebted to American largesse. Brilliant.

    Now unto Venezuela, Obama. Get rid of the drug dealing thugs claiming to be a legitimate government and realign Venezuela's vast oil resources back where they belong: with us, their largest customer.

  19. The Cuban-American elected representatives in the House and Senate need to be reminded that they were elected by American citizens, not those living in Cuba. Whatever animosities they or their families continue to cherish against Fidel or Raul Castro need to be set aside in deference to the greater good: restoration of diplomatic relations. The stubborn and entrenched positions that ruled the Cold War should not be brought to bear. Cuba is a poor country; their citizens will benefit greatly from expanded trade and the unquestioned quality of American workmanship. Unfortunately, there is, on Capitol Hill, palpable resistance to U.S.-Cuba formalities because of the political upheaval on the island in the 1950's. The canard that Cuba exports terrorism is false. We cannot move forward if we insist on remaining stuck in the past. Senator Rubio, for one, a presidential candidate, should show the way by demonstrating a maturity and generous recognition of present-day realities by loosening the cords that bind tighter the embargo on Cuba. Cuba is less a repressive regime than Russia or China; would he refuse to engage these Communist dictatorships in diplomacy because he's afraid?

  20. You know every member of the American diplomatic core just emailed their manager about a transfer.

  21. This has been long overdue. Nice job.

  22. Kennedy had Pierre Salinger buy 1,200 Cuban cigars just before the embargo.

    You can buy plenty of Cuban cigars if you have the money to travel. Taking this small example we see that the poor are the ones who lost access to Cuban goods...and their families. The wealthy always have a way. This is a great humanitarian, democratic, and generous effort by Obama.

  23. I was always in the other camp: not wanting to reward Cuba. But now I think rapprochement is a good idea for a number of reasons especially those individuals who wish to travel there to see siblings and their families. Just as this article suggests we are only 90 miles from Cuba - why allow Putin an easy entry to installing missiles and tormenting us by providing Cuba with goods and cash!

  24. The day that a minority of Cuban immigrants dictate our foreign policy has finally gone. The cold war ended decades ago, but that vocal minority continues to predict gloom and doom and warn that Cuba is communist and has a dismal human rights record. Oddly, you never hear those same people complaining about Israel or China's human rights record. Walmart is, after all, China's largest trade partner.

  25. US Cuba policy has been rooted in the anti-communist Cold War mentality of the '50's. It has been driven by small but powerful band of Cuban emigres much to the detriment of both countries. President Obama deserves a great round of applause for his efforts to normalize relations with one of our closest neighbors.

  26. Be careful Cuba -- you don't want to end up with Walmarts, Targets, Costcos, Nikes, and a slew of other American franchises – that produce most of their products in unregulated China, Indonesia, etc., – and then eat away at your culture and values.

  27. Boy that would be terrible to have access to abundant food, clothes, housewares, medicines etc. Much better to live in poverty and squalor as most Cubans do! Oh but they have their "culture and values."

  28. Except those businesses might provide decent-paying jobs for Cubans, something the Cuban state is unwilling to do.

  29. Costco would be a good addition. They treat their employees well and check the quality of their products.

  30. Obama brings the US into the 21st century and Cuba into the 20th century. Hurrah for both countries!

  31. Other than our ego, and the money and influence of the Cuban diaspora, I'm not sure why we haven't done this years ago.

    If we can practice "constructive engagement" with other Communist nations, why not Cuba?

    Congratulations -- this will be another great legacy for our President.

  32. Read on a magazine somewhere that Cuban citizens have a very positive attitude towards the US. Judging by the eager ties with their homeland among Cuban Americans, it really is a mutual relationship. A diplomatic solution should've arrived way earlier because this issue really isn't as complex as Republicans think. Why should the countries continue to part when people are tied together?

  33. There will be no one there, seeing congress will not fund it. The first step in 'normal' relations is to have Cuba pay for all the property they confiscated. At last count that was about $8 billion, including interest. Until those people get paid, any bank account that Cuba has in the US will be attached from past judgments that are still in effect. Also, any Cuban embassy in the US can be sold on a court order. We did it with the Iranians. Deadbeats are deadbeats. Remember only congress can lift the sanctions that were passed years ago.

  34. When you abandon your country, you abandon all claims to your rights there. Treason is treason.

  35. Right.
    Just after WE pay the Native Americans for most of the US.
    After we pay Mexico for California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona.

  36. As expected, Jeb has weighed in, condemning the president for abandoning that oh-so-effective policy of punishing the Castros by making life on Cuba miserable for the populace. Hot on his heels will be the two Cuban descendants in the stampede of Republican hopefuls, falling over each other with their hyperbolic Tea Party rhetoric. Rand Paul is just maverick and pragmatic enough he, perhaps alone in the GOP campaign corral, is speaking favorably of this move. The wild card, pun or no pun, of the candidates is likely to be Donald Trump. I can see him using this as cover to drop out of the race and rush to throw up another of his signature, soon-to-go-bankrupt casino properties.

    As for me, my better half has already told me we're going to Havana. Time to re-read "The Old Man and the Sea." I've always wondered if America's isolation of Cuba played any role in Hemingway's suicide.

  37. Dreadful news! Horrible news! Terrible news! Don't you folks see what will happen? For more than a half-century we have held those terrible communist Cubans mostly at bay. Not entirely as Fidel Castro was able to imbed one of his would-be faithful, a Rafael Cruz, in American society to start a trans-generational sleeper cell. But for the most part American culture has been protected from Cuban influence. Well, not entirely as South Florida and New Jersey have been affected (and Mario Rubio and Chris Christy should be object lessons as to what the consequences can be) but why should encourage this to spread? Mr. Obama we know you want a legacy but why not reach out to North Korea?

  38. Kim Jong EunObama is on the phone waiting, my friend. As soon as Obama/Kerry caves to Iran, they'll be right over!

  39. Also reach out to Kansas and Texas and South Carolina.

  40. Reading this note and the responses demonstrates that a satire of Right-Wing rhetoric is virtually indistinguishable from actual Right-Wing rhetoric.

  41. Was a big Hillary fan in '08 and will be again in 2016, but I am sure going to miss this President when his term has ended. On one issue after another, he has eventually delivered. He is flat-out impressive and I'm grateful for him. Gosh, compare all that we've done in just 6+ years with the previous 8. Night and day.

  42. What issues have impressed you so much?

  43. "When something isn't working, we can and should change." Exactly!

  44. President Obama knows that given the chance Republicans will never recognize Cuba, or deal with the Cuban nation fairly. The past relationship with Cuba that Republicans would restore, given the opportunity, was illustrated pretty accurately in the Godfather 2 movie. Cubans were then seen as poor people to be exploited by criminals from the United States, with the ability to avoid laws in this country that would prevent such exploitation here. While I am not a proponent of communism and socialism I have to admit that Cubans were better served by the commies than the vile criminal capitalists we sent over to Cuba before Castro. Now the criminal capitalists are mostly legal, even here, so God help Cuba if they are unrestricted there.

  45. Does it really help to infantilize the Cubans. We didn't send the mafia to Cuba the Mafia found its own way there via Cuba's own corrupt government.

  46. Obama and Castro rule by dictate. They should be very happy together.

  47. Another accomplishment in a very long list of the Obama administration's accomplishments. This is a president who gets things done in spite of the GOP controlled do-nothing Congress.
    Democrats look to the future; Republicans look to the past.
    We are finally chipping away at the 21st century.

  48. Gets things done to ruin this country...He is bending over backwards to allow Iran nuclear weapons...He traded a deserter for 5 terrorists. What a loser President

  49. let's remember this when it come times to vote in 2016.

    Enough with the Republican-Taliban!

  50. He pulled us out of the great recession and provided millions of us with access to health care. He's not perfect but he's much, much better than what we had before.

  51. Let me say that if the USA can maintain an embassy in Port-au-Prince, capital of never-been-communist but the always dreadfully ruled Haiti, well then the USA can maintain an embassy in Havana. The elites who rule Haiti are generally awful people who party 24/7 in their palatial mansions patrolled at all times by armed guards to keep out the millions of miserable human beings scraping by outside. Same can be said about the "I got mine, so the hell with you" elites who run more than a few other miserable non-communist countries such as Pakistan, the Philippines, Angola, and so many others.

    Seriously, I don't think people should find it outrageous that the USA is about to open an embassy in the capital city of a country that has nationalized health care and the best ranking among Caribbean basin countries in the Human Development Index.

  52. I think there is a much wider view to Obama's policy towards Cuba:

    From the inception of Castro's Cuba, he made no secret of wanting to get his hands on Venezuela's considerable oil reserves. Enter Hugo Chavez, self styled prodigal son of Fidel Castro. The alliance may have started because of true ideological alignment, but quickly it morphed into smoothing more nefarious.
    Suddenly, the Cubans had something beyond location to offer Russia: Venezuela.

    In return, Cuba gave the Venezuelan regime legitimacy allowing Chavez to indoctrinate his people into believing he was a true socialist.

    Meanwhile through those veins, what was really flowing was drugs, Russian arms, money and influence--and none of it was aligned or supportive of American goals. The situation was actually growing in danger. When Russia invaded the Ukraine, the Russian foreign minister made remarks--quickly rescinded-about building bases in Latin America. In fact, in 2009, the media quoted Hugo Chavez speculating about Russian air bases going on an island north of Venezuela. All googable.

    Enter the Saudi oil glut. Suddenly, Venezuela's economy completes its long slide into chaos and Russia gets hit as well. Sanctions hit the same sorts in both countries.

    And Cuba, without it's two other legs, is no longer the darling of the underworld. And boom, we come in and snatch them up. Multiple problems solved with one oil glut and one olive branch.

  53. While I am glad to read this news of opening Diplomatic communication and an American Embassy in Cuba, so much work remains to be accomplished. In particular, many Americans who bought property in Cuba, then paid all of their taxes on time, and sincerely wanted to settle there - all had their property "confiscated" by the Castro Government.

    I am hoping that once the flag-waving and handshakes are done, there can be a real and clear diplomatic channel to help these Americans, who still hold the titles to their confiscated property, to get their property back. Although much time has passed, and much redevelopment has happened in Cuba in the meantime, returning that property is the right and legal thing to do. I look forward to the NY Times continuing to cover this story, and this aspect of it, and to provide more information as to which Diplomats are to be contacted in this regard.

    Cuban art, food, music and culture are truly wonderful, and may they stay that way. While I don't want to see big box American chain stores down there, I would like to live on the land my Grandparents worked so hard for, to continue their legacy, and to make Cuba even more beautiful - as they had wished.

  54. someone once said, if you lay out all the claims the Cuban Miami lead-from-behind community have for property to be returned, Cuba would be larger than Brazil.

  55. Why anyone thinks it is appropriate for the United States to have "normal" diplomatic relations with the only dictatorship in the western hemisphere is beyond me. Why would we not say, "sure, we can have normal relations, as soon as you have free elections like every country in the Hemisphere"? The Europeans and Canadians have been practicing "constructive engagement" with the Castro regime for 30 years and have nothing to show for it.

  56. Then why do we have relations with a multitude of other undemocratic, dictatorial countries? Why did we maintain relations with South Africa during apartheid? The only reason we haven't had relations with Cuba is because of a warped Cold War mentality (which only served to push Cuba further and further into the Soviet's sphere of influence) and because politicians could score political points and votes by demonizing Cuba. We won the Cold War, it's time we start acting like it.

  57. SM, the US has "normal" relations with China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE, and a number of African nations that do not have free elections in the style of this country or the European nations. Is it only because these countries are not in the Western Hemisphere that you don't include them in your demand for "free elections" as a precondition for diplomatic exchange with the US? If Cuba could un-moor itself from the floor of the Caribbean and drift to the South China Sea or the Indian Ocean, then would it be OK with you to proceed with diplomatic initiatives?

    As for European and Canadian experiences with Cuba, a few examples of failures of failed diplomatic, business, or cultural exchanges would have been much more instructive than your blanket and all-inclusive "nothing to show for it."

  58. But it's fine to have normal relations with China, where people are put to death for tax fraud?!
    But you of course couch your arguments in favor of the 'western hemisphere;' it's OK that to sign treaties with Communist China, these days the world headquarters for Walmart, but it's wrong to post an ambassador 90 miles from Miami? Ridiculous.

  59. Seems to me as long as monetary profits from capitalist enterprises float back to U.S., politicians will be happy.

  60. There is nothing in this deal for the average American citizen but a lot for the average Cuban. Once again, it seems that our Dear Leader is more concerned with the benefits to Cubans rather than to Americans, and about his "legacy".

  61. But is there anything negative for Americans in this deal? If it is neutral for Americans and positive for Cubans, is that not sufficient reason to do it?

  62. This isn't about Americans. The majority of us don't live in appalling poverty like the majority of Cubans, sleeping four to a bed, making $20 a month, obeying the government above all else.

  63. What is your problem with making a friend out of a former enemy neighbor? How can it not benefit us to be at peace with countries around us? At the very least, it diminishes the possibilities of Russian missiles there again.

  64. Glad to see that the President follows American interests, the benefits of trade, and the exchange of ideas --and acknowledges that, well, the calendar says 2015 and not 1950.

    Shame to Republicans that put the interest of the country and of Cuban people in and out of the island on the chopping block, for nothing, nothing at all, but for illusory fake media personas designed to appeal to xenophobic fringes.

  65. Finally we have come to use common sense to deal with Cuba. Lets open the door to normal relations. Yes there are many many issues to deal with. In some cases they will take decades to resolve, but we should not let these issues hinder the normalization of relations between the two countries. There are some minor stepping stones. Joann Chesimard is one. Here is what will happen, eventually the Cuban government will get tired of her especially once the American dollars start to flow into the country. They will simply put her on a plane to America and say to us "her she comes". If i was her i would be looking for another country. Maybe North Korea? Lets see what the dinosaur Republican leaders like Mitch. Teddy Cruz etc do now. God bless America!

  66. I feel like a second class person, being an American living in Canada. Any of my neighbours are free to vacation and come and go in Cuba, and why not? But I would have to "sneak." My freedoms and dignity are the victims of embarrassing political games having mostly to do with Florida elections. Once respected as a champion of freedoms, the US has made itself into an international laughing stock. We have become a not so funny joke, yet feared for our economic and military clout combined with political dysfunction. Thank you Obama for this flicker of sanity and for standing up for what should be my right as an ordinary American to travel freely and see for myself what life is like in Cuba. Whatever happened to "the land of the free and the home of the brave"?

  67. Well we're still here, just about. And while I don't disagree with some of your points, it might well be worth pointing out that Canada is largely free from threat because it happens to be right beside us. It doesn't even have to see to its own defence because we do that job for them. And yet they can trust their gigantic neighbour not to push them around or grab their land or take their oil or whatever - and nobody else will do it either because they have us. Oh, and they can plow lots of money into their commendable universal health care system because we plow our money, instead, into our gold plated military which protects them as well as us but also ensures we never have enough money to see to the welfare of our people.

    So yes Canada is great but we have helped to make it and keep it so.

  68. I can't wait to see what the Cuban will do with their country. Cubans are welcoming, industrious and have developed tremendous work arounds for their repressive communist dictators. Raul Castro recognized this, when he took office and loosened the rules. Long before Air BnB, Cubans rented their rooms and provided cheap hardy breakfasts for tourists. They are industrious, friendly and have a thriving arts community. Now if we can get past the corrupt Cuban bureaucracy, we are going to see what this country can do. Cuba will make Puerto Rico irrelevant in terms of strategic positioning, not that it is relevant these days. Thank goodness this president saw the benefit of normalizing relations with this vibrant nation. Other nations have been letting their citizens travel there freely to enjoy the marvelous hospitality that the island offers. Can't wait to visit again, but please don't let it become another Cancun.

  69. If turning it into "another Cancun" benefits the average Cuban, I'm all for it!

  70. I agree. Develop smartly and let the Cubans keep their land and cultures. Say no to MacDonalds and Popeyes Fried Chicken. Say yes to Cuban cuisine, music and of course rum and cigars.
    I planned my first visit there in November 2015.

  71. The recalcitrance of the Republicans is totally mystifying. If for no other reason, wouldn't it be better to have Cuba in our camp than to have them in Russia's camp? Isn't this a step in that direction? To what end is it sensible to continue to isolate Cuba? Clearly, it does not serve American self-interest, and it does not serve Cuban self-interest. The only self-interest it serves is that of a small but loud group of ethnic Cubans, and the mindless political hucksters who pander to them. There is not one rational reason to continue what has been a 54-year-long, wholly unproductive alienation of one of our closest neighbors. The embassy can't open soon enough.

  72. Can't wait to see how many Cubans have visas to visit here and then disappear never to return to wonderful Casto brothers and Cuba!

  73. If they have any sense, they will visit here but return to Cuba to take advantage of the opportunities opening up to them for the first time in over 50 years. Cuba Si!

  74. Ted Cruz is Exhibit A.

  75. Why would they disappear?

    Cubans still, until Congress changes the law, are entitled to "special rights" not offered other illegals, including taxpayer provided welfare, subsidies, loans, etc., just by getting onto U.S. soil. That actually hasn't changed, so why would they disappear?

  76. President Obama's openness to relations with Cuba is long overdue. The Republicons like Rubio and Jeb ---- are pandering to the far right. This new relationship is a win, win for US and Cuba. American capital will cause Cuba to moderate any lingering hostility, and provide better conditions for the Cuban people.

  77. Nice to have a President who looks forward instead of backward.
    Despite the troglodyte Republicans who immediately scream "we won't up the funding for the embassy, we won't approve an ambassador," the President already had a plan in place -- the current diplomat handling our interests in Cuba will act as the ambassador and we don't need a zillion buck to build a new embassy. Of course if the President had said -- "I want to launch a war on Cuba" the arms dealers who fund the GOP and their endless war policy would have given the Repugs the greenlight to hand over as much money as the President needed for a war.
    The Party of NO is still in place but once again they've been outsmarted by the wise man in the White House named Barack Obama.

  78. "troglodytes" - well put! I don't think you can sum up the Repubnuts on this issue any better.

  79. This looks to be the opportunity of a lifetime for Sheldon Adelson. I assume he and his team of hotel and casino wizards have already established offices in Havana. Shades of Meyer Lansky, but this time with a slightly bigger cut for Cuba, inflation being what it is. Who knows, someday there may even be a high executive position in this for President Obama. Go get ‘em Sheldon, your liberal enemies and Israel’s here in the States, of much you both have multitudes, will turn permanently blue from outrage and excessive envy right here before our very eyes.

  80. The Castros and their chosen successors aren't Batista. There will probably be gentrification, but it doesn't mean it will once again turn into a U.S. gangster's oasis.

  81. Let us trust in Sheldon and others like him to get the job done and help bring prosperity to Cuba.

  82. In five years, all the "charms" of a run down third world Havana will be LONG gone -- and it will be Disneyified and full of casinos.

  83. The US re -established trade, travel and diplomatic relationships with both Germany and Japan within a few years of the end of WWII. Isn't it about time to re-establish relationships with Cuba?

  84. We haven't been "at war" with Cuba since the Spanish-American war!

    Yet since then, we've fought against Chinese troops in Korea, Vietnamese troops in Vietnam, Germans in Europe, and Japanese across the Pacific and Asia.

    Incredibly, we've ended our wars and normalized our relations with ALL those nations...except Cuba, which we weren't even at war with in 1960!

  85. About time we do something right. Antique car dealers will have a blast, not to mention the rum and cigar markets.

  86. Great to see Barack Obama normalizing relations with Cuba.
    Now he has time to normalize relations with half the American people, who are fed up with his arrogant, dishonest, unilateral stunts that shred the Constitution and divides our nation.

  87. There's no way to have a good relationship with people intent on hatred and obstruction. Our President has worked hard for all Americans and he deserves a lot of credit for that.

  88. Credit is earned, and easily squandered.
    That goes double for undeserved and unearned credit.

    There are entire segments of the American public that are disgusted with Barack Obama, and he's earned every drop.

  89. Another day, another excuse to take a jab at Obama.

    Any forum will do.

    Apparently, some conservatives are so used to the abuse as meted by their political elite that anything rational and reasonable is suspect and reduced to hollow accusations, at best.

    Normalizing relations with Cuba is a good thing. Conservatives are simply upset that Cuba can't be used as a fear tactic anymore.

    And that's a good thing, too.

  90. And for heaven's sake let's return Guantanamo back to the Cuban people! Let us rid ourselves the worst of our neo-colonial past once and for all! Let us behave like a good neighbor to start our new relationship and hope for better things in our futures.

  91. The United States government has long loved this thorn in the side of Cuba and taking suspected terrorists there only added to the pain of the Cuban government, adding to the assertion of American power. It is my belief they will keep the thorn as long as they can and only remove it out of necessity or some really huge concession on the part of the Cuban government, which is highly unlikely as long as the long faded communist dream remains a focus of whoever might be in power in Havana.

  92. Jack, if Donald Trump was elected he would turn Guantanamo in a Trump signature resort. His vice president, Miss Universe 1994 decked is Victoria Secret wear would cut the ribbon. First quest would be Putin.

  93. If GITMO is returned to Cuba it will quickly become a military port for either China or Russia, then what would America do.
    What Obama is doing is helping socialist thinking take a deeper hold on this hemisphere. China we know is communist and Russia still is also, do not be fooled.

  94. You go Mr. Obama. I pay $25-30 a stick for a Havana cigar out of Canada and Australia. Wonder what it's going to cost now. Oh my gosh, the people, the art, the music, the baseball players, the soccer players. Gonna have to get the wife to bake a cake to welcome the new neighbors.

  95. Nicaragua sells them for half that price!

  96. America in the age of Jack Kennedy mounted the hostile policy toward Cuba largely because of fears that Castro would try to export revolution to all of Latin America. Castro tried, but failed. The United States govt., in the persons of the smarter, better informed diplomats and scholars, recognized that we were on the wrong side of a tide of history, the tide of independence of nations from outside domination. The great fear was that this tide would carry communists to power, eventually isolating America's business community from world wide markets. This fear was unfounded, too, because it turns out that the world wants American products, when they can get them at a price they can afford. The fears were drawn from a bunch of high blown theories spun out by graduates of Yale, Princeton and the like about threats faced in the post WW II era. Much of it was baloney, but it sounded good and was backed by careful historical analysis and seemingly worthy scholarship. So, we waged war by another name, bouncing up into hot wars in places like Korea, Vietnam and half a dozen other places were've forgotten.

    Our nation's foreign policy has been held hostage to a small group in Miami hoping to return to Cuba and get their mother's and father's houses back, along with their former positions of dominance. Not going to happen. This is an important lesson, however, about how a small group can have a huge influence by being united behind a single cause.

  97. Yes, I've always found it incredible the way Republicans complain about "illegals" from Central America, and their perpetual whines that we're being "taken over" by people who refuse to learn English and gain U.S. citizenship, and who don't know if they're really Americans or not...

    Meanwhile, the GOP bends over backwards to give a ton of taxpayer provided benefits to Cubans who get here, make no demands on them to decide whether or not they're really Cuban or American (even as the Cubans in the Miami area literally control that city, much like a Cuban city), and indeed, most Cubans who've obtained U.S. citizenship openly proclaim that when the Castro brothers are dead and gone, they intend to return to Cuba to take back all their property and again be part of the ruling elite of Cuba!! So, where is that loyalty to the United States they supposedly swore on gaining citizenship here?

    It's long past time to kowtow to the Cuban-American community, and time to restore normalized relations in Cuba, as we long ago did with China and Vietnam!

  98. After decades of an inadequate approach probably time for considering something fresh, happy to see some progress here.

  99. If Republicans have a problem with Obama establishing relations with Communist Cuba, they should consider Nixon, who, with his visit to China in 1972, began the process of the US establishing relations with Communist China.

    China is about to supersede the US as the world’s largest economy. In comparison, Cuba, without the Soviet Union, is hardly of a threat. (And Obama, so far, doesn’t have a “Watergate”.)

  100. If you mean Watergate broadly as in the President lied about it to the American people, then Obama has numerous Watergates. It's just that the mainstream media doesn't care or doesn't care to expose a flawed leader.

  101. Nor did 1972 Democrats in any way obstruct the establishment of normalized relations, unlike today's Republicans who have already promised to prevent the naming of any Ambassador to Cuba.

  102. The embargo has strengthened the Castro's hold on power; had the US ended it's embargo following the Missle Crisis, Cuba would be about as socialistic as France today.

  103. Looking across the Caribbean Island nations, one would love to see the opening up of relations with Cuba marking a broader new phase of investment and attention to this neighboring region.

  104. Finally we are seeing some sanity being restored as the US and Cuba being the process of establishing relations once again. Thanks, President Obama for doing the right thing !

  105. Finally! It has been generations -- literally -- since Cuba posed any threat to the U.S. But for the sake of posturing, we gave the Cuban government a bogeyman to shout about, to busy the peoples' minds.

  106. The only thing that the Embargo and closing the US Embassy did was strengthen the hold of Castro in Cuba, by enforcing the belief in the Cuban people that only Castro and his revolution had all the answers and the world was against the Cuban people; people like Mark Rubio and Bob Menendez are not the Cuban Govt's greatest detractors but their greatest enablers and supporter in wanting to continue such an outdated approach to Cuba.
    Myself, I'm hoping that this new relationship that we have with Cuba will go beyond selling NY apples to Cuba, like the legalization of buying Cuban cigars in America and allowing US Tourism of Cuba, which will bring not only US dollars to Cuba but greater cultural, information, and economic freedom and opportunities for the Cuban people. And it doesn't hurt that it will create another great place for US Citizens to hang out at the beach, check out classic 50's Chevy's on the streets, and great food in Cuba.

  107. So, all those State Department types, who are cigar smokers, will have free access to Cuban cigars, but what about the rest of us, the taxpayers? The non-access to a Cuban commercial product is a form of discrimination.

  108. This sets an interesting international precedent. Steal assets and get away with it. This is precisely what Castro did in the early 60s, taking mines, telecom infrastructure, bottling plants, oil derricks and other capital improvements and making them his. So when we get tired of China, and don't like their policies, we can just do the same, right?

  109. Depends on how the capital improvements were acquired, and what kind of taxes their "owners" were paying for the privilege of exploiting the native resources and labor, and whether the "owners" were helping to repress democracy in their economic colony.

    Are you suggesting that the U.S. expropriate Chinese-owned assets within the U.S.?

  110. This is hardly new or unprecedented. Most First World nations (the U.S., Britain, France, etc.) initially took, with or without permission, assets they wanted from Third World nations.

    Decades later, as those nations attained freedom from puppet governments, those nations seized what they always viewed as their own property back from the "outsiders."

    For example, look at Iran. The oil was wanted by everyone post-World War II. The Iranian people democratically elected a leader who intended to keep such assets under Iranian control. So, the U.S. arranged a "revolution" and assassination of the democratically elected leader, replacing him with a vicious dictator who tortured and killed his people much like Saddam Hussain did later (another U.S. friend originally, by the way). And we proceeded to loot their oil wealth for years, until the Iranian Revolution, when a justifiably angry nation of Iranians seized our Embassy and its staff, holding them hostage for many months.

    Everything people claim was stolen from them by Castro, arguably had been stolen from the Cuban people before Castro, and such is the flow of history. Or are you proposing we return most of the United States to Native Americans, too?

  111. Ask the Native Americans about stolen assets sometime.

  112. I watched the televised talking heads nodding sagely, as they proclaimed that of course, the US still hopes to bring democracy and human rights to Cuba.

    Nobody mentioned Guantanamo, a part of Cuba where the US has been running a giant prison for over a decade, where the inmates are tortured and have no rights at all. Many, perhaps even most, Guantanamo prisoners are actually innocent, but were swept up in hat post 9/11 hysteria. Very few inmates have gotten trials. The prison complex was built at Guantanamo because it was located outside of the US territory, where prisoners are supposed to have human rights, like a fair trial.

    If the US government actually wanted to bring human rights to Cuba, it could start by giving a fair trial to those Guantanamo inmates who are actual terrorists, and freeing the innocent. When Obama was running for President in 2008, he vowed to close Guantanamo, but of course he didn't.

    If you want to judge the seriousness of the commitment to human rights of any government, in any country, don't judge by nice words. Judge by the deeds. And Guantanamo speaks volumes.

  113. John, I continue to be amazed that people like you act as though the president could do anything he wanted to if he only really believed in it. Congress expressly blocked Obama from closing Guantanamo, so it didn't happen. It's that simple.

  114. I'm sure Mr. Kerry will enjoy his visit to Havana.
    I was born in that old Spanish City and grew up there until coming to the American shores was a life saver. My childhood memories are full of those views he will now enjoy at my (taxpayer's) expense, but I welcome him to my old neighborhood.
    If he wants to play a bit of old fashioned politics at the same time though, I would stay away from opening the new embassy or celebrating it on July 26.
    That's the anniversary of the start of Castro's July 26 movement and I can't see how Mr. Kerry can help his party in 2016 with the Cuban American vote in Miami if he fails to see the symbolism.

  115. Why would Democrats care about the Cuban-American vote? They've been reliably Republican supporters for decades, while almost all other Hispanic voters resent the special treatment and benefits given to Cubans coming to America (especially when you compare the poverty and lack of opportunity in nations like Honduras or Guatamala, as opposed to the relatively safe and secure lives Cubans have with no drug gangs, excellent public education and excellent public health)!

    Meanwhile, those same Republicans, most lately typified by Donald Trump, perpetually attack, insult and bad mouth non-Cuban Hispanics, who have as a result become increasingly supportive of the Democrats (despite the fact that the number of undocumented aliens has actually declined under Obama, a first in decades, and despite the fact Obama has had more undocumented aliens deported than any President before him).

    And don't worry, there are millions of us, after living literally 50 years watching the failed policies concerning Cuba, have absolutely no problem with Mr. Kerry seeing those views at MY (taxpayer's) expense (always amuses me how frequently Republicans believe only they are paying taxes).

  116. The question is whether the older generation who idealized their lives in Cuba pre-Castro will return to their motherland? All the years these folks supported the embargo, impoverishing their fellow Cubans left behind while they monopolized southern Florida and reaped their riches. Now is their chance to put their money where their mouths are.

  117. There is bad blood on both sides - Cuban anger over American support for dictatorships throughout Latin America from 1900 on, US anger over nationalization of American owned companies in 1960, followed by more Cuban anger over the American-instigated invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, followed by greater US anger over Cuban acceptance of Soviet missiles in 1962.

    Neither side is blameless in this struggle, and neither is very admirable in many respects. Cuba needs to modernize and expand human rights. And the US needs to acknowledge the reasons for the Cuban Revolution and to be open to letting Cubans keep the best of what they have achieved over the past 55 years, if they want to do so.

  118. True, except the U.S. is a democratic Republic with free elections and no political prisoners while the Castro's are absolute dictators that rule the Cuban people with an Iron fist, and have imprisoned and tortured tens of thousands for political reasons over the decades to maintain their iron control. There is a tiny little difference there.

  119. I'm glad that my academic position has made it possible for me to go to Cuba twice, and to meet with researchers in my field. I've used the opportunity to do some exploring and to meet some people, even with my mediocre Spanish.

    The embargo never made sense to me from a business perspective, and I don't understand why so many American companies accepted it, losing sizeable revenue in the process. It's not as if the embargo worked; I had no trouble finding Coke, Pringles, Dell computers running Windows, and more.

    Cubans love American cars, but have been buying cars from Korea, France, and China, since they couldn't buy Fords and Chevys. Many of the old American cars are restored with foreign parts, too. No Goodyear or Firestone tires, either. The modern tour buses there are Chinese, not GMC.

    No Hilton or Marriott properties in Cuba's beach resorts, let alone in Havana or Cienfuegos. Similarly, German Adidas shoes can be found in Havana, but wealthy Cubans must go to Mexico or the DR for their Nikes. Companies like Ticonderoga (pencils), J&J (band-aids), and hundreds of others simply passed up the revenue, seemingly without protest. (I've intentionally omitted the American plague of fast food.)

    I'm looking forward to greater normalization of Cuban-American relations, and to eventual resolution of some of the longstanding issues.

  120. I visited Cuba last month. The people of Cuba who have lived with shortages of every type of consumer good we in the U.S. take for granted are ready. One simply said, "Hurry up."

  121. Well, duh. Cuba is the textbook case of Marxist socialism as a total failure -- run by one party, a dictator, totalitarian and despite being a lush tropical paradise, unable to feed its own people.

  122. Marvelous news - it's about time.

  123. I am about as old as the old misguided American policy towards Cuba. And I have waited my whole life for some sunny diplomacy to drop from the stormy skies onto that unfortunate tropical island.

    What have we been doing all these years with our hard line, militaristic, angry, and completely out of proportion treatment of Cuba? If human rights were our mantra, we should have given up our embassies in China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan a long time ago.

    Instead, we created an island of people who desperately wanted to make connection with us, but were kept in solitary confinement by the twin dictatorships of Castro and the American State Department.

    Thank you President Obama for getting rid of an anachronistic, hobbling, unnecessary, destructive and enfeebling foreign policy that produced absolutely no positive dividends for either Cuba or the United States.

  124. Why the United States can maintain diplomatic relations with communists countries like China and Vietnam, but not with Cuba?
    It seems that Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are still frozen in time and do not realize that the Cold War ended many years ago. They are still pandering to the old generation of Cuban Americans without realizing that the majority of young Cuban Americans are in favor of the new policy of engagement.

  125. Isn't Obama worried he'll upset the Republicans?

  126. He upsets them just by waking up every morning.

  127. Things clearly aren't working. But WE'RE not the ones with political prisoners and a subjugated people. You'd think that if things HAD to change, it would be CUBA that did it, not us.

    What obligation other than to a "legacy" do we have to vindicate the Castros' 56-year reign of terror and devastation?

  128. Normalizing relations after 56 years is hardly vindication on the Castro legacy. The Cuban people have been more deeply harmed by the embargo that the Castros. At this point it is just the right thing to do. The US government lost a bit of its moral standing to object Cuba's "political prisoners and a subjugated people" when it tolerated much of the same during Batista's oppressive regime.

  129. U.S. citizens are always going to complain about what the government does. And those who perceive their own ox as being gored the most are going to complain the most.

  130. The US has embassies in Russia and China. Embassies do not mean you approve of the local government.

    And the American embargo exists because of Florida's electoral votes, not because of concern for the Cuban people. It's an embarrassment to the U.S, and has been for half a century.

  131. How nice of Marco Rubio to try to protect the property of the US Mafia that ran Havana's night clubs and brothels until the Revolutionaries kicked the seedy gangsters out of their country. Rubio is a Trafficante-style Cuban, he being the mobster who put out the hit on JFK while accepting exceptional US hospitality..."one dry foot" even for mafia dons. Ignore Baby Faced Marco as the Castro's kicked his kind out of their country long ago causing the Mafia to overrun Miami and Tampa.

  132. About time. I was watching a clip on the new the other night where Jimmy Carter was asked to name a foreign policy success of the Obama administration and he declined to do so. When Carter thinks your foreign policy is a mess, watch out!

  133. If we can recognize and have (or had) diplomatic relations with brutal regimes like Saudi Arabia, Syria, El Salvador, Chile, and Iran, why the brouhaha over Cuba? Only because of the inordinate power of thr Cuban-American lobby on the Senate and House. We should listen to Robert Menendez, Diaz-Balart, and Rubio? Better to deal with Cuba in the tent, than without.

  134. No Surprise here! When Obama took office and insulted the British by shipping back the bust of Winston Churchill, I'm surprised he didn't replace it with a busts of Fidel Castro. Obama must be loving his ability to shower help and legitimacy on his communist dictator buddies in Cuba.

  135. $7Billion in American owned property lies in Cuban hands...and they are still a dictatorship on our doorstep.

  136. This is a damned good idea, Mr President. And I suggest that you send in the cheapest and most effective "diplomats" our country has ever had - Peace Corps members. More than 400,000 of them have served in more than 140 countries since JFK founded the corps in 1962, and very, very few of them have served with anything but high marks from the people they served. Please do not send in the typical technicians who are striving to go from grade 7 to grade 9, but send in the kind of people who are still - after years of fighting - still remembered with fondness in countries like Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Libya, etc, and will accomplish much more with simple kindness than tens of thousands of embassy officials would with the kind of talk that one gets after waiting for hours waiting in line only to be told that you're on the wrong darn line.

    Send in lots of well-trained Peace Corps volunteers. They have a long history of being able to communicate well with ordinary people. What's more important than that? Peace Corp volunteers are VERY good at what they do! Let them show us what they can do in Cuba.

  137. And what will Cuba do for the United States? It is a impoverished communist country and its people are still oppressed. So where is the partnership that Cubans can partake?

  138. After Trump's remarks and Obama's ovation to Cuba, the Republicans will be lucky if any Latino will vote for a GOP candidate in the next 20 years.

  139. I favor the reopening, but am mystified why the left has never criticized Cuba for its repression of gays or dissnters.

  140. Americans are naive to believe that anything can change in Cuba while the communist regime is still in power. What difference will thousands of new US tourists make other than to generate extra revenue for the regime? Cubans will not see any of that money. They get paid a flat rate, something like $20 a month, regardless of what they contribute. The US embargo has not stopped goods from being available in Cuba, stores have merchandise from many parts of the world, the problem is that Cubans do not have the hard currency to buy any of it. That is the Cuban government's policy, I wish smart people would stop blaming the United States for the misery and oppression that are a result of deranged totalitarian Cuban dictatorship. It's fun to blame America first but it just isn't accurate.

  141. I believe this has more to do with solidifying communism in this hemisphere than anything else.

  142. Republicans have been caught sabotaging diplomacy to keep hostilities going for decades, Nixon and Vietnam, Reagan and Iran-Contra, the the 47 traitors writing letters to Iran and John Boehner holding a tea party with Netanyahu in the halls of congress etc.

    Who wants to make a bet they don't try to sabotage relations with Cuba too?

  143. The most important thing the president said was that "the best way to support our values is through engagement." I fully agree. This is long over due. Unfortunately, due to the lack of engagement for decades, others have gained a foothold in Cuba that more rightfully should have belonged to the US had we done things differently.

  144. Remember JFK?

  145. "New chapter"?
    No, I think not, Americans never create a new chapter it seems.
    They simply re-re-visit the old ones.
    They are still, after all these years, re-visiting the slavery chapter.

  146. "It is time for our unilateral concessions to this odious regime to end." Senator Marco Rubio for Florida states, in reference to Cuba and United States new relations.

    Though, I do not like Communist regimes, but I think, it is time for Sen. Rubio and other Cuban born Americans to let their hate for the Castros and their regime to end by itself. Now, if Sen. Rubio and other Cuban-Americans have a better idea how to improve Cuban poverty, let's hear it. Otherwise, keep themselves quiet and let actions improve the well being of other Cubans.

  147. I sincerely hope for Cuba's sake that it doesn't turn into a "former" chapter, pre-1959.

  148. The Cuban people have born the repercussions of these isolationist policies much more than the Cuban government has in my opinion. There is scant evidence that continuing these policies will have much effect on the behavior of the Cuban government.

    Republicans such as Mr Rubio find it distasteful to deal with a repressive, leftist regime and yet the US somehow finds it acceptable to deal with China. If the business community saw the same profitability in normalized relations with Cuba I think that the Republicans would quickly change their tune.

  149. There's no way the US is going to share or support some ideas. The only acceptable way for Obama is to plant and embark the American ideology!
    That's a luck that the Cubans have already had this period in their history and their experience may become very helpful in making "friends" with the Americans!

  150. "we're going to keep those Cubans prisoner's of that brutal communist dictatorship as long as it takes for their leadership to give up and quit. It's only been 64 years, they'll give up any day now" - John Boehner

  151. Boehner's remarks remind me of an observation made by Robin Williams; "Politicians are like babies' diapers - they need to be changed regularly and for the same reason."

  152. "But Republicans, including several presidential candidates, quickly denounced the diplomatic reopening as appeasement of a dictatorial regime". Perhaps our government should sever ties with Communist China and Communist Vietnam for the same reasons they give for not supporting President Obama and his Cuba initiative.
    Richard Nixon was elevated to hero status over his opening relations with mainland China. President Obama is reviled for attempting the same thing with an island nation. Well, could it be that Cuba has nothing to offer us other than cigars and rum where China and Vietnam has goods made using cheap labor?

  153. The Obama Administration & the State Department could set up a Digital Embassy in place of one in Havanna which the Republicans seen determined to prevent.

    If the Republicans are so set on not dealing with places like Ciba then we have no reason to have Embassies in China, Russia or Saudi Arabia. People from those places are no more free than the average Cuban.

  154. Not that it is really a surprise with this President, but what he is doing is against the law.

    The Helms-Burton Act of 1996 (PL 104-114) prohibits the US from recognizing any Cuban government:
    - that has Fidel or Raul Castro as a member
    - that has not paid compensation for American private property confiscated by the Castro government after the revolution (I believe the State Dept. keeps the certified list)

    It also prohibits the Executive Branch from unilaterally canceling the embargo.–Burton_Act

    This was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996.

    Why hasn't the NY Times done enough research on this topic to include it in this article?

  155. The administration is not revoking the trade embargo, which as you indicate, must be done by Congress.

    I find it hard to believe that the Helms-Burton Act of 1996 would mention Raúl Castro, who had not yet become Head of State.

  156. Yet another victory for this best ever president Long live Obama!

  157. I don't know about best ever but he's right up there.

  158. Watch mr Obama give Castro Gitmo...........just wait and see

  159. You want it? Why?

  160. So how much money is the US giving Cuba?

  161. A staunch conservative I know went to Cuba this winter as a tourist. And loved it. Plans to go again. Can't wait for it to get easier to do so. Game over GOP. Add this to the list of things you are out of touch with the public on.

  162. Uh, don't we have diplomatic relations with mainland China? Isn't it the biggest baddest Commie country in the world? Or did Nixon make it OK to truck with China but not to deal with a small local Communist entity? Is Cuba that much more frightening than China? Really?

  163. For 50+ years, since Eisenhower cut diplomatic relations to prepare the grounds for the Bay of Pigs CIA invasion the same estreme right leaders or, now their priviledged children, have intoned the same mantra, with little to no concer for the Cuban people, justopposed to change political posturing. The Cuban extreme right in Havana, equally opposed to change, formed with them a unique bond, an unholy alliance.

    And they will keep the Cuban people in bondage because, God forbid, there might be change. And the fear is valid because change is already taking place, at a glacialpace in some places, faster in others. Even Cuban bureaucrats are smiling to Americans...that's change.

  164. There can be no assurance of normalized relations with Cuba until Kerry gets the RESET button out of the Foggy Bottom vault and takes it to Havana.

  165. Normal exchange in a diplomatic sense.

    Commercially? Cuba will want to sell commodities in the US and to buy US commodities and certain finished goods.

    As for Starbucks, McDonalds, Wendy's sprinkled liberally about or Marriotts, Best Westerns, Motel 8's, and Las Vegas atmosphere jarring Cuba's authentic charm, those firms' missionaries might be disappointed. AC equipment sellers, however, should do well

    Cuba wants dollars from tourists, who should be satisfied with what Cuba offers. Cubans want to pocket those dollars themselves, not have them sent back to US franchisors.

  166. The argument that we shouldn't restore relations with a dictatorship is pretty thin given that US had a very cozy relationship with the previous Bastista dictatorship. While I think that our government should push for some compensation before full normalization of relations, I also believe that it is unreasonable to try to zero out all historical ledgers of economic grievances. Eventually you just have to move on.

  167. It's long past the time we ended the 1950's Cold War thinking when it comes to Cuba. The embargo failed to bring down the regime which will die of old age instead. The embargo continues because of the cries of a very vocal minority and out-of-touch Republicans who cling to the notion that Cuba is a threat, either to America or to business (which is their real concern). The Cuban people are hungry for our tourism and dollars and we are anxious to go there and spend those dollars. A win-win for everyone..