HAVANA.- Since Monday July 20, 2015, the Interests Sections of Cuba and the US in Washington and Havana have become embassies, and their chiefs have been promoted to the roles of Charge d’ Affairs, in what is deemed a significant historical development.

The new era in bilateral relations was marked by a meeting on this same date between Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and his North American counterpart John Kerry, with the hoisting of the Cuban flag at a building in the vicinity of the White House.

The events were covered extensively by the world’s media, fostering hopes for better links following more than fifty years of US political hostility.

Since Monday July 20, 2015, the Interests Sections of Cuba and the US in Washington and Havana have become embassies, and their chiefs have been promoted to the roles of Charge d’ Affairs, in what is deemed a significant historical development.Although many observers consider that the reestablishment of diplomatic ties signifies an end to such negative interrelations, but there is still much to be done.

According to Cuban authorities, the principal obstacle to normalization is the economic, commercial and financial blockade that has cost the Island an excess of $1,000,112,534 dollars in damages.

Although not a legislative priority, there are nonetheless conservative elements remaining within the US Congress’ intent on blocking the thaw that commenced on December 17, 2014.

In this regard, Mitch McConnell, Republican majority leader in the Senate, recently indicated that any lifting by legislators of the unilateral sanctions imposed on Cuba would face serious obstacles.

McConnell added that it seems unlikely that his party colleagues would endorse any nomination Obama might make for Ambassador in Havana, and he thinks that – in conflict with what a number of them have expressed – “there is considerable opposition to the president’s present policy on Cuba in the Capitol”.

On this same subject, Republican senator Lindsey Graham recognized that, although promising to continue to work against the White House position, it would appear to be politically impossible to obtain the requisite votes in the higher chamber to block funds for the opening of the Embassy in Cuba.

In spite of fervent opposition from this prominent conservative, and other Republican politicians, there is a significant number from their own party that support Obama’s new approach to links with Cuba.

Among them are senators Jeff Flake and Mike Enzi who, in addition to other similar proposals, proposed legislation in mid-May to stimulate business between US companies and the Caribbean island.

Well known North American democrats and Republicans who have visited Cuba in recent months agree that there is a bipartisan consensus in Congress which favors the elimination of the unilateral sanctions imposed on Cuba.

Even White House spokesperson John Earnest confirmed in Washington just a few days ago that there is strong support for Obama’s objective of lifting the blockade.

Experts agree on the necessity to examine the new bilateral landscape as objectively as possible, because even though there really has been significant progress, officials from both nations accept that much still remains to be done on the road to the normalization of relations.

In addition to the lifting of the blockade, Havana is calling for talks on the return of land illegally occupied in the east of the country by the Guantanamo Naval Base, the cessation of illegal radio and television broadcasts and an end to subversive actions.

The American side wants to debate, amongst other points, the indemnification for companies nationalized following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959.

The Cuban Government have made known their willingness to explore this or any other outstanding issues in conjunction with their demand for compensation for harm and damages caused by Washington’s unilateral sanctions, and the long list of aggressive actions against Cuba carried out by successive North American administrations.

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