La Apertura – U.S. Initiates Diplomatic Relations with Cuba After 53 Years

(AP Photo, File) In this Jan. 3, 1961 file photo, Cubans crowd outside the U.S. embassy in hopes of getting visas after President Fidel Castro ordered the U.S. embassy to reduce its staff to 12 officials within 48 hours, in Havana, Cuba. The U.S. broke relations with Cuba on this day, and closed its embassy.
(AP Photo, File) In this Jan. 3, 1961 file photo, Cubans crowd outside the U.S. embassy in hopes of getting visas after President Fidel Castro ordered the U.S. embassy to reduce its staff to 12 officials within 48 hours, in Havana, Cuba. The U.S. broke relations with Cuba on this day, and closed its embassy.

Cuban cigars, baseball players seeking asylum, chrome plated cars in pastels, and those thirteen days of October 1962 which almost pitted the world to the brink of nuclear war. For the past fifty-three years these are the things most Americans have associated with the Communist dictatorship of Cuba—the isolated island situated just ninety miles from Miami. On December 17, 2014 President Obama acting without Congress reversed course and began the process of shifting America’s fifty year attempt in the Caribbean of trying to exert pressure on the Castro regime to change its policies.

Cuba has always enjoyed a special legal relationship with the United States compared to other Communist regimes (probably as a result of its proximity). While formal diplomatic relations were cut in 1961 by President Eisenhower and a trade embargo issued, the United States has continued to maintain its ‘Diplomatic Mission’ in Havana and has operated its naval base at Guantanamo.

Comparatively, the United States continued to maintain diplomatic relations with the USSR throughout the Cold War and established formal relations with China in 1979 and Vietnam in 1995.

While travel to Cuba by Americans was never banned outright—as there were loopholes (it had to fall into twelve categories). Last December’s historic lifting of regulations will not only make tourism to Cuba more accessible, but begin the politically contentious lawmaking process of relaxing sanctions in the name of diplomacy and free trade against the backdrop of nation whose regime continues to have abysmal human rights violations.

Anthony Christina is a 2L and a Resident Student Blogger with the Journal of Law and International Affairs at the Penn State University-Dickinson School of Law


 

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