Kerry to Cubans: It's time to end 'mutual isolation'

AP News
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Posted: Aug 14, 2015 2:16 PM
Kerry to Cubans: It's time to end 'mutual isolation'

HAVANA (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry presided Friday over the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana as the United States and Cuba re-establish diplomatic relations after more than 54 years.

Here are some of Kerry's remarks:

"We remain convinced the people of Cuba would be best served by a genuine democracy, where people are free to choose their leaders, express their ideas, practice their faith."

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"It doesn't take a GPS to realize that the road of mutual isolation and estrangement that the United States and Cuba have been traveling is not the right one and that the time has come for us to move in a more promising direction."

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"For more than half a century, U.S.-Cuban relations have been suspended in the amber of Cold War politics. In the interim, a whole generation of Americans and Cubans have grown up and grown old. The United States has had 10 new presidents. In a united Germany, the Berlin Wall is a fading memory. Freed from Soviet shackles, Central Europe is again home to thriving democracies."

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"In that frozen environment, diplomatic ties between Washington and this capital city were strained, then stretched thin, then severed. In late 1960, the U.S. ambassador left Havana. Early the following January, Cuba demanded a big cut in the size of our diplomatic mission. President Eisenhower then decided he had no choice but to shut the embassy down. Most of the U.S. staff departed quickly, but a few stayed behind to hand the keys to our Swiss colleagues, who would serve diligently and honorably as our protecting power for more than 50 years, and to whom we will always be grateful.

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"Among those remaining at the embassy were three Marine guards: Larry Morris, Mike East, and Jim Tracey. As they stepped outside, they were confronted by a large crowd standing between them and the flagpole. Tensions were high. No one felt safe. But the Marines had a mission to accomplish. Slowly, the crowd parted as they made their way to the flagpole, lowered 'Old Glory,' folded it, and returned to the building. Larry, Mike and Jim had done their jobs, but they also made a bold promise - that one day they would return to Havana and raise the flag again."

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"We are all aware that, notwithstanding President Obama's new policy, the overall U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba remains in place and can only be lifted by congressional action— a step we strongly favor."