Cuban flag raised as Washington embassy officially opens to the public

Posted: 20-Jul-15 15:46

It's official, and it had been so since midnight today but now the Cuban flag has been raised in the U.S. Washington embassy amidst an inaugural ceremony that saw the doors officially open as diplomatic activity between the two countries is renewed after more than five decades. A historic day in half a century will be marked by the holding of talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodriguez, now in Washington to officiate the opening ceremony which is being broadcast in Cuban television.

Cuban flag raised as Washington embassy officially opens to the public

Cuba is joyously celebrating the reopening and official renewal of diplomatic affairs at their Washington embassy, which for more than 50 years was downgraded to the country’s Interests Sections (likewise for the U.S. counterpart in Havana). The once-in-a-lifetime event for at least two generations of Cubans and Americans was broadcasted live across various Cuban television channels and the BBC also captured and distributed some footage of it, which we are also sharing here on the video embedded below.

Today at midday, Cuban diplomats officiated the raising of the flag amidst a cheering crowd of 500 guests in the form of Cuban artists, veterans of the revolution and diplomats who gathered to mark the occasion with a big bang. Once the flag was flying high in its post the march of the Cuban hymn gave way to a group sing-a-long, which then gave way to chants of “Viva Cuba libre”, “Viva Fidel”, “Viva Raul” and “Viva la hospitalidad americana” (Viva the American hospitality).

Heading the ceremony was Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, who travelled to Washington expressly for this purpose and to hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry later on in the day.

On the U.S. side of things, the official inauguration ceremony of the new American embassy in Havana has been put on hold to wait for the arrival of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who will visit Cuba next month. Until then there won’t be any flag-raising or festivity as U.S. diplomats in Havana get ready for Mr Kerry’s visit – the highest level trip to Cuba done by a U.S. official since 1959. But even when the official U.S. embassy reopening ceremony in Havana won’t take place until August, every other diplomatic aspect of the embassy is ready, from business cards to embassy signs and plaques.

The only thing both embassies are waiting for is the announcement of the official new ambassadors and until then the former Cuban and American Heads of Interest Sections in both embassies will be in charge.

Both embassies now have their space on the social media Twittersphere with the Cuban embassy in Washington, officially announcing their reopening with the following tweet:

"As of today, July 20, we are U.S. Embassy Havana, Cuba, & our new Twitter handle is @USEmbCuba. Share it"

Soon to follow was a Tweet from one of the account’s first followers, Conrad Tribble, who excitedly announced:

"Just made first phone call to State Dept. Ops Center from United States Embassy Havana ever. It didn't exist in Jan 1961."

The Twitter account for the U.S embassy in Cuba is now also opened with a single tweet in Spanish posted at the same time as its Cuban counterpart (eleven hours ago):

“Si buscan a la Embajada de EE.UU. en La Habana, Cuba, sigue a @USEmbCuba” which roughly translated as:

"If looking for the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, follow @USEmbCuba"


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