2015 July 20

President Obama Normalizes U.S. and Cuba Relations


The United States and Cuba on this day normalized diplomatic relations. The occasion was marked by the opening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington, CD. (The U.S. Embassy in Havana was scheduled to be opened later.)

Relations between the two countries had been hostile since the Cuban Revolution in 1960, including a trade embargo by the U.S., the CIA-sponsored invasion of Cuba in 1961 (the Bay of Pigs invasion, travel restrictions, and the violation of various civil liberties of Americans.

Restrictions of travel to Cuba involved a violation of Americans’ right to travel, so that they could observe, talk to people, and form their own opinions about life in Cuba. In the 1960s, several groups of Americans challenged the travel ban by traveling to Cuba illegally. Although threatened with prosecution by the U.S. Justice Department, no one was ever actually prosecuted.

For one event involving U.S. attempts to forcibly remove Fidel Castro as President of Cuba, see January 19, 1962.

For actions by the U.S. government to prevent Americans from traveling to Cuba, see August 1, 1963  (in which President Kennedy labeled the travelers “Communists”), August 26, 1963, and August 19, 1964.

On June 16, 2017 President Donald Trump reversed many of the Obama policies that had normalized U.S.- Cuba relations. Read Trump’s June 16th statement on Cuba here.

Read about the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba: Howard Jones, The Bay of Pigs (2008)

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