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End of an era: After more than 50 years, the US and Cuba are talking again

“These 50 years have shown that isolation hasn’t worked. It’s time for a new approach,” said Barack Obama.

Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Image: AP/Press Association Images

AFTER MORE THAN fifty years of a fractious and often tense relationship, the US and Cuba are to restore diplomatic relations.

US President Barack Obama announced the major policy shift this evening, saying that the US was ending “an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests”.

“These 50 years have shown that isolation hasn’t worked,” Obama said. “It’s time for a new approach”.

In a landmark speech, he said that the US is taking steps to ‘increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba’.

“It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba towards collapse,” he said.

Let us leave behind the legacy of both colonisation and communism – the tyranny of drug cartels, dictators and sham elections.

Tensions between the two countries had eased in recent years as the US geared up to end its policy of isolating the Caribbean island.

One of the key symbolic moves will be the re-opening of the US embassy in Cuba.

Under the other changes, some goods and services from the US will be allowed to be sold in Cuba for the first time since the trade embargo began half a century ago. US companies will be able to sell items including materials for building homes, farm equipment, and good for entrepreneurs.

The US said there would also be an expansion of travel to Cuba. Up until now, most US citizens have been banned from flying to Cuba. Under the new policy, the advance application will no longer be required in many cases, but the ban on independent tourist travel is likely to remain in place for the time being.

The limits on money sent from Cuban emigrants in the US to their families are also to be increased from $2,000 (€1,600) per year to €8,000 (€6,445) per year.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations, Barack Obama said.

Background

Cuba background

Read: So how are we getting on with Cuba these days? > 

Read: Unresponsive US plane that flew over Cuba crashes off Jamaican coast > 

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