US and Cuba restored ties by ending 50 years hostility

Dec 20, 2014 10:09 IST

The United States and Cuba agreed on 17 December 2014 to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries. The US President Barack Obama and Cuba President Raul Castro announced the restoration of full diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The US President Obama called for an end to the long economic restriction against its old Cold War enemy Cuba. He also announced the opening of an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century by ending the hostility between two countries.

Obama announced that a rigid and outdated policy of isolating Cuba had failed to achieve change in Cuba. The Vatican and Canada facilitated the deal where Pope Francis played an active role in pressing for American Alan Gross release from Cuba.

Restrictions lifted

  • Both the countries Presidents Obama and Raul Castro agreed on a breakthrough prisoner exchange, the opening of embassies in each other's countries, and an easing of some restrictions on commerce.
  • The US administration policy shift includes an opening to more commerce in some areas, allowing use of US credit and debit cards, increasing the amount of money that can be sent to people of Cuba and allowing export of telecommunications devices and services.
  • The deal includes Cuba to release American Alan Gross, 65, who had been imprisoned in Cuba for five years and the US in return to release three intelligence agents of Cuba held in the US.

Restrictions remained

  • Travel restrictions for most Americans to visit Cuba will be eased but the restrictions will not yet be open for broad US tourism to Cuba.
  • The US trade restrictions will remain same that has been in force more than 50 years until t it gets congressional approval of the US.

Background

Cuba and the United States have been ideological enmity since the 1959 revolution in Cuba which brought Fidel Castro, to power who was old brother of Raul Castro.

The US broke diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 as Cuba steered a leftist course that made Cuba into a close ally of the former Soviet Union. The hostilities were disturbed by crises over spies, refugees and the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

After the disintegration of Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War in early 1990s, the US was alone in its efforts to squeeze Cuba.

Since 2008, Raul Castro who took over the President from Fidel Castro has maintained a one party political system.

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Read more Current Affairs on: United States , Cuba , Cold War , Diplomatic relations

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