The Cuban flag was raised by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez at the newly restored embassy in Washington, while the American flag will be raised in Havana once Secretary of State John Kerry visits the island nation in August. It is a good day for many in both nations, however it should be seen as merely a first step and not the restoration of a friendly relationship.
“The historic events we are living today will only make sense with the removal of the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes so much deprivation and damage to our people,” Rodriguez said, referring to the withstanding trade embargo on Cuba that can only be rescinded by the US Congress. Furthermore, the issue of returning Guantanamo to Cuba-who insists it is occupied territory-is still a cause for concern.
“A new stage will begin, long and complex, on the road toward normalization,” Cuban President Raul Castro said last week, knowing very well the struggles his country could face when American capitalism becomes more prevalent. Tourism is expected to steadily increase, in addition to sales of world-famous Cuban cigars, which have been illegal-albeit popular-in the United States for decades. But along with this influx of investment on the island, Cubans risk losing their culture, and the ideologies behind the 1959 revolution could become lost as in other parts of the world.
Conversely, Americans could also learn a lot from Cuba. Not everything is perfect of course, as Cuba’s Human Rights abuses are high and freedom of speech is severely limited. Nonetheless, they have one of the highest life expectancies in the world(more so than the US), and its universal healthcare system and medical personnel are praised throughout the world.
Both countries thus have a lot to gain from their new relationship, though Cuba arguably has more to lose.