Ice melts between US, Cuba

  • Diplomatic relations to be established soon
  • Pope Francis initiative bring the rivals together
  • Obama says the policies of isolation failed
  • Embarks on a new policy of reconciliation
  • Both countries release prisoners
  • Decades of hostility ends creating history

(Venkata Kondubhatla)

Washington, December 18: A new phase of relations has begun between Cuba and the United States after a half century of rivalry. President Barrack Obama and Cuba’s President Raul Castro have talked on phone for about 45 min. today before they decided to put aside the decades of hostility between the two countries.

The beginning to the diplomatic relations is the result of the secret talks between the two countries, encouraged by the Pope Francis, started nine months ago. Canada also participated in the talks.

“We will begin to normalize our relationships with the people of Cuba,” president said talking from the White House. He said the policies of isolation and embargo on Cuba have failed, and it is time to take a different policy.

Obama said that he had asked Secretary of the State John Kerry to immediately begin diplomatic talks with Cuba. Also, an embassy will soon be established in Havana and a high ranking official group will soon visit the country, he added.

The talks yielded in the release of prisoners from both the countries, some of them languishing in the prisons for more than 20 years. They included Alan. P. Gross, the American government contractor arrested in 2009. Release of Gross was not in the agreement, but still the Cuban government released him on humanitarian grounds. His release has been the point of contention between the two countries. Also, the persons released included three Cuban spies captured by the United States besides 53 Cuban prisoners.

Obama will also ease restrictions on remittances and traveling.

The visits of professionals along with journalistic, educational and religious activities will soon happen between the two countries along with many other such visits;however, the tourism between the countries is still prohibited. Meanwhile, remittances have also been eased, for example, the money that can be remitted to Cuba was up to $300 for three months, this has been now raised to $2000. People coming from Cuba can bring up to $500 of imports including a $100 worth of cigarettes or tobacco.

Vatican has hailed the decision and Pope Francis is supposed speak to the public later today. With these talks, both the countries, which are divided by just 200 miles of Atlantic Ocean, are set to a new beginning of relations.

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