Today, President Obama announced that the United States and Cuba will resume talks to better build diplomatic relations. The announcement comes on the heels of the release of American Alan Gross, who had been in captivity in Cuba for the past five years. The United States, in turn, released three Cuban spies who had been imprisoned since 2001. While the fifty-year-long embargo is still in place, the two nations will have discussions to either ease up on the restrictions or to lift the embargo entirely.
During his speech, President Obama discussed the history of the embargo and how the policy has hurt both nations, stating:
We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries […] These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.
Cuban President Raul Castro made a joint-announcement, stating:
We have been able to advance the solutions of some themes of interest to both nations. This decision of President Obama deserves the respect and acknowledgment of our people. This does not mean the principal issue has been resolved. The blockade which causes much human and economic damage to our country should cease.
Presidents Obama and Castro spoke on the phone Tuesday, marking the first time leaders of both nations spoke directly with one another in more than 50 years. The rekindling of national relations was conducted in secret over the past 18 months with Canada hosting talks and Pope Francis personally requesting relations be healed, going so far as to hold the final meeting between the two nations in the Vatican.
You can watch President Obama’s full speech below.
[via New York Times]