Diplomatic Relations Restored

The end of a stalemate. The beginning of a bright future.


The end of a stalemate. The beginning of a bright future.

Paris Acosta, Photojournalist

January 1961 marked an important date for the U.S. and Cuba alike; President Dwight D. Eisenhower imposed the first trade embargo and broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba, just weeks before leaving office. From then on, the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba began to worsen, and President John F. Kennedy aimed to topple Castro’s reign in a failed Bay of Pigs operation in April of 1961. The Bay of Pigs invasion and the 13 day showdown over Soviet missiles in Cuba confirmed its status as a “ground zero” in the Cold War.

But even after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union, U.S. and Cuba’s relationship remained at a standstill and filled with animosity; Cuba had no formal ties with Washington.

It wasn’t until 2013 that things had begun to progress. In 2009, an American government contractor, Alan P. Gross, was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison for delivering satellite telephone equipment, capable of connecting Cubans to the internet. In June 2013, Obama conducted several meetings with Cuban politicos in Canada (who has relations with Havana) in hopes of releasing Alan P. Gross and transform U.S.-Cuban relations. In fact, Pope Francis involved himself by encouraging communication via letters to Mr. Obama and Mr. Castro; a meeting had even been hosted by the Vatican in October to finalize the terms of the deal. And on December 17th, 2014, Alan Gross was released and President Obama ordered to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba, vowing to “cut loose the shackles of the past.”50 years of an enduring stalemate had come to an end.

In a nationally televised statement from the White House, President Obama stated, “We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.”

But what effects will the restoration of diplomatic relations have on Americans and Cubans?

It goes without saying that Cuba’s economy will benefit greatly by opening relations with the United States as the U.S. has great purchasing power and a lot of capital to invest. As Remy Chang (12) explains, “Cuba will have access to the capital, investment, and trade opportunities that come with opening relations to the United States.”

Medical research (for both countries) also stands to advance from these open relations. Peter A. Muennig, an associate professor of health policy and management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, claims “There is a surplus of medical personnel in Cuba and a shortage in the U.S. This will therefore be hugely beneficial to both countries as information and technologies are shared, and human capital flows from Cuba to the U.S.”

Evidently, repairing this relationship and ending this feud, which had lasted over half a century, was in the best interest of both nations. Hopefully U.S.-Cuban relations continue to progress and illuminate the futures of both parties involved.