CUBA and the Unites States formally re-established diplomatic ties yesterday, reopening their embassies at one minute past midnight.
The Cuban flag was raised in the grounds of the socialist nation’s former interests section in Washington, now upgraded to embassy status for the first time since 1961.
Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez addressed hundreds of guests at the embassy just a few blocks from the White House.
In the small hours, the Cuban flag was also hung without ceremony in the lobby of the US State Department, alongside those of other nations with which the US has diplomatic relations.
The newly refurbished US embassy in Havana will not fly Cuba’s flag until Secretary of State John Kerry visits the mission in August.
Havana city historian Eusebio Leal said that, to him, the reopening of the Cuban embassy in the US was “the recognition of the legitimacy of the Cuban people and the revolution itself, denied for years by the United States.
“Hostile methods did not work, so that’s why a new stage begins.
“It does not mean that the ceremony this July 20 ends the problem. On the contrary, it opens a chapter in deeper and more complex things to deal with,” he added.
Mr Leal quoted Cuban colonial liberation hero Jose Marti, who said: “It had to be in silence and somewhat indirectly,” because “what ends on Monday started long ago and has been negotiated arduously.
“The fact that the flag is hoisted here first, we being the affronted, the expelled, the sons of the desert, and that then they go to Havana has a high symbolic value,” he said.
Also present was Ramon Pez Ferro, a veteran of the July 26 1953 Moncada Barracks attack led by Fidel Castro that began the Cuban revolution.
He said his presence was a moment of recognition to all who fell in defence of the ideals of the revolution.
In Miami, a stronghold of Cuban immigrant anti-communists, around a hundred members of the Allianza Martiana — named in honour of Jose Marti — celebrated the historic day.