Yesterday, after more than 50 years, we
began to change America's relationship with the people of Cuba.
We are recognizing the struggle and
sacrifice of the Cuban people, both in the U.S. and in Cuba, and ending an
outdated approach that has failed to advance U.S. interests for decades. In
doing so, we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.
I was born in 1961, just over two years
after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just as the U.S. severed
diplomatic relations with that country.
Our complicated relationship with this
nation played out over the course of my lifetime -- against the backdrop of
the Cold War, with our steadfast opposition to communism in the foreground.
Year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between us.
That previous approach failed to promote
change, and it's failed to empower or engage the Cuban people. It's time to
cut loose the shackles of the past and reach for a new and better future
with this country.
I want you to know exactly what our new approach will
First, I have instructed
Secretary of State John Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to
re-establish diplomatic relations that have been severed since 1961. Going
forward, we will re-establish an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking
officials will once again visit Cuba.
Second, I have also instructed
Secretary Kerry to review Cuba's designation as a State Sponsor of
Terrorism -- a review guided by the facts and the law. At a
time when we are focused on threats from ISIL and al Qaeda, a nation that
meets our conditions and renounces terrorism should not face such a
Third, we'll take steps to
increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to -- and from --
Cuba. These steps will make it easier for Americans to travel to
Cuba. They will make it easier for Americans to conduct authorized trade
with Cuba, including exports of food, medicine, and medical products to
Cuba. And they will facilitate increased telecommunications connections
between our two countries: American businesses will be able to sell goods
that enable Cubans to communicate with the United States and other countries.
Learn more about the steps we're taking to change our
These changes don't constitute a reward or a
concession to Cuba. We are making them because it will spur change among
the people of Cuba, and that is our main objective.
Change is hard -- especially so when we
carry the heavy weight of history on our shoulders.
Our country is cutting that burden loose to
reach for a better future.
President Barack Obama