Obama Unveils ‘New Approach’ On Cuba As Former Foes Chart New Course
President Obama announced today the most significant change in U.S. policy toward Cuba in more than 50 years, paving the way for the normalization of relations and the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana.
Obama said “we will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.”
He added: “These 50 years have shown, isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.”
Obama said as these changes unfold, he will talk to Congress about lifting the embargo on Cuba. The U.S. severed diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961, shortly after Fidel Castro and his communist rebels ousted dictator Fulgencio Batista.
In a nationally televised address that coincided with Obama’s remarks, Cuban President Raul Castro called on the United States to “remove any obstacles that hinder ties between our two countries.”
“This decision by President Obama deserves the respect and recognition of our people,” Castro said. However, he added, this “does not mean that the most important issue has been resolved. The embargo on our country … has to end.”
Despite “profound differences,” Castro said, Cuba is willing to talk to the United States about thorny subjects including human rights and democracy.
Today’s developments come hours after news emerged that Alan Gross, the American contractor who spent five years in a Cuban jail, had been freed on humanitarian grounds.
“It’s good to be home,” Gross said in Washington, shortly after his return to the U.S.