President Obama Changes U.S. – Cuba Relations

Pres Obama US - Cuba Relations December 17, 2014

Statement by the President on Cuba Policy Changes

Cabinet Room 12:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba.

In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries. Through these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people, and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas.

There’s a complicated history between the United States and Cuba. I was born in 1961 –- just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just a few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion, which tried to overthrow his regime. Over the next several decades, the relationship between our countries played out against the backdrop of the Cold War, and America’s steadfast opposition to communism. We are separated by just over 90 miles. But year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between our two countries.

Meanwhile, the Cuban exile community in the United States made enormous contributions to our country –- in politics and business, culture and sports. Like immigrants before, Cubans helped remake America, even as they felt a painful yearning for the land and families they left behind. All of this bound America and Cuba in a unique relationship, at once family and foe.

Proudly, the United States has supported democracy and human rights in Cuba through these five decades. We have done so primarily through policies that aimed to isolate the island, preventing the most basic travel and commerce that Americans can enjoy anyplace else. And though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, no other nation joins us in imposing these sanctions, and it has had little effect beyond providing the Cuban government with a rationale for restrictions on its people. Today, Cuba is still governed by the Castros and the Communist Party that came to power half a century ago.

Neither the American, nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born. Consider that for more than 35 years, we’ve had relations with China –- a far larger country also governed by a Communist Party. Nearly two decades ago, we reestablished relations with Vietnam, where we fought a war that claimed more Americans than any Cold War confrontation. That’s why -– when I came into office -– I promised to re-examine our Cuba policy. As a start, we lifted restrictions for Cuban Americans to travel and send remittances to their families in Cuba. These changes, once controversial, now seem obvious. Cuban Americans have been reunited with their families, and are the best possible ambassadors for our values. And through these exchanges, a younger generation of Cuban Americans has increasingly questioned an approach that does more to keep Cuba closed off from an interconnected world.

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/17/statement-president-cuba-policy-changes

December 17, 2014

FACT SHEET: Charting a New Course on Cuba

Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people. We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba.

It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba. At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba. Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party.

We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state. With our actions today, we are calling on Cuba to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities. In that spirit, we should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens we seek to help.

Today, we are renewing our leadership in the Americas. We are choosing to cut loose the anchor of the past, because it is entirely necessary to reach a better future – for our national interests, for the American people, and for the Cuban people.

For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/17/fact-sheet-charting-new-course-cuba .

January 15, 2015

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Publication of Regulatory Changes regarding Cuba

Last month, President Obama announced historic changes to our Cuba policy, beginning the process of normalization between our countries, and announcing his commitment to ease restrictions on American citizens and businesses. Today, the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Commerce took a significant step forward in delivering on the President’s new direction by publishing regulatory amendments to existing Cuba sanctions. These changes will immediately enable the American people to provide more resources to empower the Cuban population to become less dependent upon the state-driven economy, and help facilitate our growing relationship with the Cuban people.

We firmly believe that allowing increased travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba will allow the United States to better advance our interests and improve the lives of ordinary Cubans. The policy of the past has not worked for over 50 years, and we believe that the best way to support our interests and our values is through openness rather than isolation. The United States remains committed to our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a more prosperous Cuba that respects the universal rights of all its citizens.

US Cuba flags.

 

President Obama delivers a statement on Re-establishing Diplomatic Relations with Cuba
Rose Garden

July 1, 2015

President Obama delivers remarks in the Rose Garden on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. July 1, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015 9:45 AM ET
Secretary of State John Kerry raises the American flag to mark the re-opening of the U.S. Embassy
Havana, Cuba

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Monday, March 21- 22, 2016
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visit Cuba 
Havana, Cuba

#USCuba

#CubaVisit

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42 thoughts on “President Obama Changes U.S. – Cuba Relations

  1. WH

    Thursday, December 17, 2014

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    President Obama attends meetings at the White House

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
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    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    12:30 PM
    Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest

    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    President Obama meets with senior advisors

    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
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    10:00 PM

  2. President Obama Changes US – Cuba Relations

    December 17, 2014

    Statement by the President on Cuba Policy Changes

    Cabinet Room

    12:01 P.M. EST

    THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba.

    In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, 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. Through these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people, and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas.

    There’s a complicated history between the United States and Cuba. I was born in 1961 –- just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just a few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion, which tried to overthrow his regime. Over the next several decades, the relationship between our countries played out against the backdrop of the Cold War, and America’s steadfast opposition to communism. We are separated by just over 90 miles. But year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between our two countries.

    Meanwhile, the Cuban exile community in the United States made enormous contributions to our country –- in politics and business, culture and sports. Like immigrants before, Cubans helped remake America, even as they felt a painful yearning for the land and families they left behind. All of this bound America and Cuba in a unique relationship, at once family and foe.

    Proudly, the United States has supported democracy and human rights in Cuba through these five decades. We have done so primarily through policies that aimed to isolate the island, preventing the most basic travel and commerce that Americans can enjoy anyplace else. And though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, no other nation joins us in imposing these sanctions, and it has had little effect beyond providing the Cuban government with a rationale for restrictions on its people. Today, Cuba is still governed by the Castros and the Communist Party that came to power half a century ago.

    Neither the American, nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born. Consider that for more than 35 years, we’ve had relations with China –- a far larger country also governed by a Communist Party. Nearly two decades ago, we reestablished relations with Vietnam, where we fought a war that claimed more Americans than any Cold War confrontation.

    That’s why -– when I came into office -– I promised to re-examine our Cuba policy. As a start, we lifted restrictions for Cuban Americans to travel and send remittances to their families in Cuba. These changes, once controversial, now seem obvious. Cuban Americans have been reunited with their families, and are the best possible ambassadors for our values. And through these exchanges, a younger generation of Cuban Americans has increasingly questioned an approach that does more to keep Cuba closed off from an interconnected world.

    For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/17/statement-president-cuba-policy-changes

    • December 17, 2014

      FACT SHEET: Charting a New Course on Cuba

      Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people. We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba.

      It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba. At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba. Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party.

      We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state. With our actions today, we are calling on Cuba to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities. In that spirit, we should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens we seek to help.

      Today, we are renewing our leadership in the Americas. We are choosing to cut loose the anchor of the past, because it is entirely necessary to reach a better future – for our national interests, for the American people, and for the Cuban people.

      For more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/17/fact-sheet-charting-new-course-cuba

    • The Cuba Breakthrough
      Biggest Change In 50 Years

      DECEMBER 17, 2014, 11:01 AM EST By DYLAN SCOTT – The Hill

      The United States intends to open an official embassy in Cuba in the coming months, the White House announced Wednesday, part of a broader normalizing of diplomatic relations after the countries exchanged prisoners.

      In a conference call with reporters, a senior administration official called the developments “the most significant changes to our Cuba policy in more than 50 years.”

      “What we are doing is beginning the normalization of relations of the United States and Cuba,” the official said. “President Obama has long believed that engagement is a better tool than isolation and nowhere is that clear than in Cuba, where we have seen a policy of isolation fail for the last 50 years.”

      The White House said that Obama would order Secretary of State John Kerry to begin discussions with Cuban officials on re-establishing diplomatic relations and high-level discussions and visits between the countries are expected to follow. The opening of the embassy will happen “as soon as possible,” an official said, noting that “the decision has been made” to normalize relations. The main issues to be resolved are logistical, the official said.

      Other expected changes include increased travel permission for Americans to visit Cuba, an official review of Cuba’s current designation as a state sponsor of terrorism and increased coordination between the United States and Cuba on issues like disaster response and drug trafficking.

      As for the Cuban embargo, officials said that the White House supports efforts to end it, but knows congressional approval for lifting it is unlikely in the immediate future.

      For more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/obama-united-states-cuba-embassy

    • WH: Pope Francis helped secure Cuba deal

      12/17/14 12:04 PM EST By Justin Sink – TheHill

      Pope Francis was a key player in helping secure a historic deal between the Obama administration and Cuba to begin normalizing relations, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

      In a letter sent to both President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro over the summer, Francis “personally issued an appeal” to both leaders to pursue a closer relationship.

      The pope called on Cuba to “resolve” the case of Alan Gross, an American aid worker who had been jailed for five years after bringing telecommunications equipment to the Island, and implored President Obama to release three Cubans convicted of spying on anti-Castro groups in Miami.
      All four were released as part of a broader deal Obama is expected to announce Monday, which will also significantly scale back travel and trade restrictions on Cuba and see the U.S. establish an embassy in Havana.

      According to the senior administration official, the Pope’s letter “gave us greater impetus and momentum for us to move forward” with preliminary talks first authorized by President Obama in 2013.

      • Obama, Castro Shake Hands at Summit of Americas

        April 10, 2015 9:43 PM Luis Ramirez – VOAnews

        PANAMA CITY—
        U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro greeted each other Friday evening and shook hands at the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

        Obama administration officials said the interaction between the two leaders was informal and there was no substantive conversation.

        Obama and Castro are expected to meet on Saturday.

        Obama said earlier Friday he is pleased that Cuba is being represented for the first time at the summit.

        He said in a speech to civil society leaders at the summit in Panama City that he hopes efforts to restore U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba will improve the lives of the Cuban people.

        Courting change

        Obama said “civil society is the conscience of our countries. It’s the catalyst of change.” He added, “strong nations don’t fear active citizens-strong nations embrace and support and empower active citizens.”

        For more: http://www.voanews.com/content/obama-set-to-engage-cubans-in-panama/2713730.html

      • Raul Castro gives Obama ‘very emotional’ apology

        April 11, 2015, 03:05 pm By Mark Hensch – TheHill

        Cuban President Raul Castro on Saturday expressed remorse that President Obama had inherited the hostile relationship between Cuba and the U.S. during his time in office.

        The Lebanon Daily Star reported that the Communist leader apologized to Obama during the seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama City. He also absolved the president of any role increasing tensions between the two nations during his remarks.

        “I apologize to President Obama and the others here,” Castro told an assembly of Latin and North American leaders.

        “I apologize to him because President Obama has no responsibility for this,” he continued, citing the standoff between Cuba and the U.S., which has lasted for over half a century.

        Castro added his government perceives many past American leaders poorly for their treatment of the island nation. The foreign leader said he did not list Obama among their ranks.

        “I have told President Obama that I get very emotional talking about the revolution,” Castro said.

        “In my opinion, President Obama is an honest man,” he added.

        President Obama declared diplomatic progress between the two nations a “turning point” for the region during his own remarks Saturday. He added that meeting Castro was a “historic occasion” for both countries.

        “I’m not interested in having battles that frankly started before I was born,” Obama said. “The Cold War’s been over for a long time.”

        Obama and Castro will meet Saturday evening in a monumental encounter. American and Cuban leaders have not had so direct a dialogue in more than 50 years.

        The pair displayed their newfound respect for one another by shaking hands at the summit late Friday evening. They also spoke on the phone Wednesday before traveling to Panama.

        President Obama will soon decide whether Cuba will remain on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. The agency formally requested he remove it from the blacklist on Wednesday evening.

        State concluded its official review of Cuba’s status Thursday. It said Cuba has not supported terrorist acts during the last six months or more.

        President Obama first announced he would normalize relations with Cuba late last December. His administration detailed eased restrictions on American trade and travel there January 15.

      • April 11, 2015

        Remarks by President Obama and President Raul Castro of Cuba Before Meeting

        ATLAPA Convention Center
        Panama City, Panama

        2:46 P.M. EST

        PRESIDENT OBAMA: This is obviously a historic meeting. The history between the United States and Cuba is obviously complicated, and over the years a lot of mistrust has developed. But during the course of the last several months, there have been contacts between the U.S. and the Cuban government. And in December, as a consequence of some of the groundwork that had been laid, both myself and President Castro announced a significant change in policy and the relationship between our two governments.

        I think that after 50 years of policy that had not changed on the part of the United States, it was my belief that it was time to try something new, that it was important for us to engage more directly with the Cuban government and the Cuban people. And as a consequence, I think we are now in a position to move on a path towards the future, and leave behind some of the circumstances of the past that have made it so difficult, I think, for our countries to communicate.

        Already we’ve seen majorities of the American people and the Cuban people respond positively to this change. And I truly believe that as more exchanges take place, more commerce and interactions resume between the United States and Cuba, that the deep connections between the Cuban people and the American people will reflect itself in a more positive and constructive relationship between our governments.

        Now, obviously there are still going to be deep and significant differences between our two governments. We will continue to try to lift up concerns around democracy and human rights. And as you heard from President Castro’s passionate speech this morning, they will lift up concerns about U.S. policy as well.

        But I think what we have both concluded is that we can disagree with the spirit of respect and civility, and that over time it is possible for us to turn the page and develop a new relationship in our two countries.

        And some of our immediate tasks include normalizing diplomatic relations and ultimately opening an embassy in Havana, and Cuba being able to open an embassy in Washington, D.C. so that our diplomats are able to interact on a more regular basis.

        For more: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/04/11/emarks-president-obama-and-president-raul-castro-cuba-meeting

      • Recommendation to Rescind Cuba’s Designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism

        Press Statement
        John Kerry
        Secretary of State
        Washington, DC
        April 14, 2015

        In December 2014, as a critical component of establishing a new direction for U.S.–Cuba relations, the President directed the State Department to launch a review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism and provide a report to him within six months. Last week, the State Department submitted a report to the White House recommending, based on the facts and the statutory standard, that President Obama rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

        This recommendation reflects the Department’s assessment that Cuba meets the criteria established by Congress for rescission. While the United States has had, and continues to have, significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these concerns and disagreements fall outside of the criteria for designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. This review focused on the narrow questions of whether Cuba provided any support for international terrorism during the previous six months, and whether Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future, consistent with the statutory standard for rescission.

        Circumstances have changed since 1982, when Cuba was originally designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism because of its efforts to promote armed revolution by forces in Latin America. Our Hemisphere, and the world, look very different today than they did 33 years ago. Our determination, pursuant to the facts, including corroborative assurances received from the Government of Cuba and the statutory standard, is that the time has come to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

        • April 14, 2015

          Message to Congress — Report to Congress with Respect to the Proposed Rescission of Cuba’s Designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism

          Pursuant to the Constitution and the laws of the United States, and consistent with section 6(j)(4)(B) of the Export Administration Act of 1979, Public Law 96-72, as amended
          (50 U.S.C. App. 2405(j)), and as continued in effect by Executive Order 13222 of August 17, 2001, I hereby certify, with respect to the rescission of the determination of March 1,
          1982, regarding Cuba that:

          (i) the Government of Cuba has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding 6-month period; and

          (ii) the Government of Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.

          This certification shall also satisfy the provisions of section 620A(c)(2) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, Public Law 87-195, as amended (22 U.S.C. 2371(c)), and section 40(f)(1)(B) of the Arms Export Control Act, Public
          Law 90-629, as amended (22 U.S.C. 2780(f)).

          BARACK OBAMA

    • Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding Normalization of Relations with Cuba

      WASHINGTON, D.C., December 17, 2014 – “The American Farm Bureau Federation strongly supports President Obama’s move toward normalized relations with Cuba. Farm Bureau has long called for a removal of trade restrictions with Cuba, and we believe expanded trade with the U.S. can serve as a cornerstone for additional reforms.

      “The president’s opening to Cuba promises to improve trade conditions by making it easier for Cuba to buy U.S. agricultural and food products. This is welcome news for our nation’s farmers and ranchers.

      “Right now, U.S. farmers can export to Cuba, but third-party banking requirements and limited credit financing make it harder to compete in the market than it should be. We look forward to a prompt lifting of those restrictions.

      “Improving trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba will expand access to a market of 11 million consumers for U.S. agriculture. That’s good for Cuba and good for America, too. We look forward to working closely with the administration on this issue.”

    • U.S. Chamber Welcomes Progress in U.S.-Cuba Relations

      Wednesday, December 17, 2014 – 12:30pm

      Donohue Says, ‘Steps Announced Today Will Go A Long Way In Allowing Opportunities for Free Enterprise to Flourish’

      WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue today issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s announcement that the U.S. government will take steps to normalize relations with Cuba:

      “The U.S. business community welcomes today’s announcement, and has long supported many of the economic provisions the president touched on in his remarks. We deeply believe that an open dialogue and commercial exchange between the U.S. and Cuban private sectors will bring shared benefits, and the steps announced today will go a long way in allowing opportunities for free enterprise to flourish. In countries around the world, where leaders from across the political spectrum have made a concerted effort to liberalize their economy, we have seen a sharp rise in the quality of life of their citizens.

      “As we witnessed on our exploratory trip to Havana earlier this year, Cuba has changed some of its economic policies to lessen government control or ownership of Cuban businesses, and subsequently, their private sector is growing. There is still work to do, on both sides of this relationship, but the changes outlined today are a substantive and positive step forward. It is imperative that the Cuban government build on today’s positive steps with a more ambitious economic reform agenda at home, while we continue to push for the end of the embargo here in Washington.

      For more: https://www.uschamber.com/press-release/us-chamber-welcomes-progress-us-cuba-relations

    • December 17, 2014

      Readout of the Vice President’s Calls to the Presidents of Colombia and Mexico on the Administration’s Cuba Policy Changes

      Today, the Vice President called Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to discuss the President’s announcement on U.S. Cuba policy changes. The Vice President discussed the President’s historic changes to U.S. Cuba policy, including re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba; facilitating travel and increasing remittances; increasing U.S. participation in Cuba’s telecommunications sector; and easing restrictions on providing U.S. goods and services to Cubans in third countries. The Vice President informed President Peña Nieto that the United States would also pursue discussions with the Cuban and Mexican governments to address the unresolved maritime boundary in the Gulf of Mexico. Further, the Vice President conveyed the President’s intent to participate in the April 2015 Summit of the Americas in Panama as long as Cuban civil society is allowed to participate and human rights and democracy form part of the Summit agenda. Both President Santos and President Peña Nieto applauded the President’s courage in charting a new course in U.S. relations with Latin America and the Caribbean, and committed to supporting the initiative.

    • January 15, 2015

      Statement by the Press Secretary on the Publication of Regulatory Changes regarding Cuba

      Last month, President Obama announced historic changes to our Cuba policy, beginning the process of normalization between our countries, and announcing his commitment to ease restrictions on American citizens and businesses. Today, the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Commerce took a significant step forward in delivering on the President’s new direction by publishing regulatory amendments to existing Cuba sanctions. These changes will immediately enable the American people to provide more resources to empower the Cuban population to become less dependent upon the state-driven economy, and help facilitate our growing relationship with the Cuban people.

      We firmly believe that allowing increased travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba will allow the United States to better advance our interests and improve the lives of ordinary Cubans. The policy of the past has not worked for over 50 years, and we believe that the best way to support our interests and our values is through openness rather than isolation. The United States remains committed to our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a more prosperous Cuba that respects the universal rights of all its citizens.

    • Glued to TVs, Cubans Cheer U.S. Talks Like It’s Baseball

      Jan 23, 2015 3:29 PM P By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan – bloomberg

      As U.S. and Cuban diplomats met to begin restoring diplomatic ties after five decades, Havana’s residents followed the developments with a fervor normally reserved for a Papal visit or a sporting championship.

      Cuban media aired and rebroadcast briefings throughout the two days of negotiations, a rarity in a society where the press is state-run and people often get news from relatives or friends. While U.S. and Cuban officials said differences between their governments remain “profound,” participants from both sides smiled broadly for the public and said the talks were productive.

      Clara Gonzalez Perez, a 56-year-old nurse, said she gathered around the TV with family for two days to get every bit of information about “la apertura,” or the opening, between the nations.

      “There’s not a baseball game that people here would watch with as much excitement as for these talks,” Perez said. She’s so enthusiastic she said she began hugging Americans visiting as part of cultural tour groups in the streets, saying, “I love Obama! We love America!”

      U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, the highest-ranking diplomat to visit Havana since Jimmy Carter’s presidency, cautioned that the two sides need to “overcome more than 50 years of a relationship that was not based on confidence or trust.” She said it isn’t clear Cuba is ready to move as fast as the U.S. in loosening economic restrictions.

      For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-23/glued-to-tvs-cubans-cheer-u-s-talks-like-baseball-championship.html

    • July 01, 2015

      Statement by the President on the Re-Establishment of Diplomatic Relations with Cuba

      Rose Garden

      11:08 A.M. EDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Please have a seat.

      More than 54 years ago, at the height of the Cold War, the United States closed its embassy in Havana. Today, I can announce that the United States has agreed to formally re-establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba, and re-open embassies in our respective countries. This is a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people, and begin a new chapter with our neighbors in the Americas.

      When the United States shuttered our embassy in 1961, I don’t think anyone expected that it would be more than half a century before it re-opened. After all, our nations are separated by only 90 miles, and there are deep bonds of family and friendship between our people. But there have been very real, profound differences between our governments, and sometimes we allow ourselves to be trapped by a certain way of doing things.

      For the United States, that meant clinging to a policy that was not working. Instead of supporting democracy and opportunity for the Cuban people, our efforts to isolate Cuba despite good intentions increasingly had the opposite effect -– cementing the status quo and isolating the United States from our neighbors in this hemisphere. The progress that we mark today is yet another demonstration that we don’t have to be imprisoned by the past. When something isn’t working, we can -– and will –- change.

      Last December, I announced that the United States and Cuba had decided to take steps to normalize our relationship. As part of that effort, President Raul Castro and I directed our teams to negotiate the re-establishment of embassies. Since then, our State Department has worked hard with their Cuban counterparts to achieve that goal. And later this summer, Secretary Kerry will travel to Havana formally to proudly raise the American flag over our embassy once more.

      For more: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/01/statement-president-re-establishment-diplomatic-relations-cuba

      ——-

      July 01, 2015 Declaraciones del Presidente Sobre El Restablecimiento de las Relaciones Diplomáticas con Cuba

    • Statement on Cuba

      John Kerry
      Secretary of State
      Vienna, Austria

      July 1, 2015

      SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for your patience. In Washington a few moments ago, President Obama announced that we had reached an agreement to formally re-establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba and that we will reopen embassies in our respective countries.

      Later this summer, as the President announced, I will travel to Cuba to personally take part in the formal reopening of our United States Embassy in Havana. This will mark the resumption of embassy operations after a period of 54 years. It will also be the first visit by a Secretary of State to Cuba since 1945. The reopening of our embassy, I will tell you, is an important step on the road to restoring fully normal relations between the United States and Cuba. Coming a quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War, it recognizes the reality of the changed circumstances, and it will serve to meet a number of practical needs.

      The United States and Cuba continue to have sharp differences over democracy, human rights, and related issues, but we also have identified areas for cooperation that include law enforcement, safe transportation, emergency response, environmental protection, telecommunications, and migration. The resumption of full embassy activities will help us engage the Cuban Government more often and at a higher level, and it will also allow our diplomats to interact more frequently, and frankly more broadly and effectively, with the Cuban people. In addition, we will better be able to assist Americans who travel to the island nation in order to visit family members or for other purposes.

      This transition, this moment in history, is taking place because President Obama made a personal, fundamental decision to change a policy that didn’t work and that had been in place not working for far too long. I believe that’s leadership, and I appreciate that leadership. And President Castro felt similarly that it was time for a change. Both leaders agree that concentrating on the issues and possibilities of the future is far more productive than remaining mired in the past. And I would say as we look at the world today with conflicts that we see and even these negotiations taking place here in Vienna, it is important for people to understand that things can change, that leadership can be effective and can make a difference.

      For more: http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/07/244542.htm

    • Fifty-Four Years Later, Marines Reunite To Raise the American Flag at U.S. Embassy Havana

      AUGUST 13, 2015 POSTED BY SARAH G. THOMAS – state.gov

      Over the past month, I have had the extraordinary honor and privilege to meet and get to know three remarkable veteran U.S. Marines — Jim Tracy, F.W. Mike East, and Larry C. Morris. My colleagues David Arizmendi and Shehryar Mufti and I filmed these gentlemen as they reflected upon their memories serving as Marine Security Guards at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba from 1960-1961.

      On January 4, 1961, these Marines lowered the American flag at U.S. Embassy Havana for the last time. As Mike East said, “It was a touching moment. To see Old Glory flying for the last time in Cuba, it was… just didn’t seem right.”

      For the past 54 years, their warm affection for the Cuban people and desire to return to Cuba to raise the American flag again in Havana never weakened. Larry Morris said, “I was there…four and a half months. But I enjoyed the people and Cuba better than any place I’ve ever been.”

      For more: http://blogs.state.gov/stories/2015/08/13/fifty-four-years-later-marines-reunite-raise-american-flag-us-embassy-havana

      #USCuba

    • The U.S. Re-Opens Our Embassy in Havana, Cuba

      Published on Aug 14, 2015

      Secretary John Kerry travels to Havana, Cuba to re-open our embassy after 54 years. August 14, 2015.

    • Pentagon poised to submit plan for closing Guantánamo Bay

      2/22/16 12:13 PM EST By Kristina Wong – TheHill

      The Pentagon is poised to submit a plan to Congress for closing the Guantánamo Bay prison camp, a spokesman said Monday.

      Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the administration will meet the Tuesday deadline for submitting a proposal for closing the facility and moving its terrorist detainees.

      “We understand that the deadline is tomorrow and it’s our intent to meet it,” Davis said.
      The plan will call for the closure of the detention facility, and lay out several options on how to do so, Davis said.

      President Obama is pushing to close the prison and fulfill a long-standing campaign promise before leaving office. There are 91 detainees remaining at the prison.

      “The plan is to submit to Congress what our thoughts are on the issue, and what we see is a way ahead necessary to achieve the closure of Guantanamo and to specifically point out the need for legislative relief,” Davis said.

      Davis said the administration’s plan is still to transfer away as many detainees as possible and bring those remaining to the U.S., a step that is opposed by many members of Congress, particularly in the GOP.

      For more: http://thehill.com/policy/defense/270268-pentagon-to-submit-gitmo-closure-plan-to-congress

  3. Hi CR,

    WOW!!! I’m listening to PBO’s announcement again. I’m so happy that I’m alive while this man is in office. It’s so cool that the Pope was highly involved, too. I like this Pope… I thought China would be involved, but Canada? Wow! Looking down the road, I wouldn’t be surprise if DC & PR have an opportunity to apply for statehood under PBO. But for now, I’m just drinking all of this beautiful history in. In a time of so much pain in this country, this good news is so much needed

    WOW! 🙂

    Thank you for this wonderful post.

    • Hi Isaac,

      YOU called it about changing US-Cuba relations last month and now it is happening!

  4. US soccer

    December 18, 2014
    4:20 PM ET
    US WNT vs Argentina
    National Stadium Mane Garrincha
    Brasília, DF, Brazil

  5. Jobless Claims in U.S. Decrease to Lowest Level in Six Weeks

    Dec 18, 2014 5:49 AM PT By Nina Glinski – bloomberg

    The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week as the economy’s continued improvement tempered dismissals.

    Jobless claims decreased by 6,000 to 289,000 in the week ended Dec. 13, the fewest since early November, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 51 economists projected 295,000. Claims have been below 300,000 for 13 of the past 14 weeks.

    Employers are curtailing dismissals and hiring at the strongest pace since 1999, a sign of a tightening labor market that may put upward pressure on wage growth. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues yesterday raised their assessment of the labor market and said they will be patient on the timing of the first interest-rate rate increase.

    “Labor demand has in fact picked up a bit,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, said in a research note. “Chair Yellen set continued improvement in labor market conditions as the key requirement to justify liftoff at some point next year, and the data continue to support that scenario.”

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-18/jobless-claims-in-u-s-decrease-to-lowest-level-in-six-weeks.html

  6. Leading Indicators in U.S. Increased in November for Third Month

    Dec 18, 2014 7:11 AM PT By Michelle Jamrisko – bloomberg

    The index of U.S. leading indicators rose in November for a third straight month, a sign the economy is gaining traction heading into 2015.

    The Conference Board’s index, a gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months, increased 0.6 percent in November, matching the prior month’s gain, the New York-based group said today. The median forecast of 49 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.5 percent advance.

    Strengthening employment and a plunge in prices at the pump are bolstering the consumer spending that makes up almost 70 percent of the economy, helping shelter the expansion from slowing growth overseas. Federal Reserve policy makers said yesterday they would remain “patient” in increasing near-zero interest rates even as domestic demand firms.

    “The biggest challenge has been, and remains, more income growth,” Ken Goldstein, an economist at the Conference Board, said in a statement. “However, with labor market conditions tightening, we are seeing the first signs of wage growth starting to pick up.”

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-18/leading-indicators-in-u-s-increased-in-november-for-third-month.html

  7. Average US 30-year loan rate falls to 3.80 percent

    12/18/14 Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, with the benchmark 30-year loan rate reaching a new low for the year.

    The rates’ historically low levels could be a boon to potential homebuyers. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage dropped to 3.80 percent this week from 3.93 percent last week. It is now at its lowest level since May 2013.

    At the beginning of the year, the 30-year rate stood at 4.53 percent.

    The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, declined to 3.09 percent from 3.20 percent last week.

    Mortgage rates often follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which also has fallen to its lowest levels since May 2013. It traded at 2.14 percent Wednesday, down from 2.17 percent a week earlier. The 10-year note traded at 2.21 percent Thursday morning. Bond yields rise as prices fall.

    For mor: http://news.yahoo.com/average-us-30-loan-rate-falls-3-80-152653442–finance.html

  8. Consumer Confidence in U.S. Rose to Seven-Year High Last Week

    Dec 18, 2014 6:45 AM PT By Victoria Stilwell – bloomberg

    Consumer confidence rose last week to a seven year-high as falling gas prices and continued job growth burnish American attitudes.

    The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index (COMFCOMF) climbed to 41.7 in the period ended Dec. 14, the highest reading since mid-November 2007, from 41.3 the week before. Monthly views on economic expectations rose to match a two-year high.

    The pick-up in sentiment is welcome news for U.S. businesses in the midst of the most important selling season of the year since falling gasoline prices will give consumers extra cash to spend during the holidays. More jobs and a pickup in wages will help maintain the expansion as geopolitical tensions and weakening growth abroad roil financial markets.

    “These results comport with recent positive news in terms of job creation, wages, retail sales and gas prices, all just in time for the holiday shopping season,” Gary Langer, president of Langer Research Associates LLC in New York, which produces the data for Bloomberg, said in a statement.

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-18/consumer-confidence-in-u-s-rose-to-seven-year-high-last-week.html

  9. December 17, 2014

    Readout of Vice President Biden’s Call with Iraqi Kurdistan Regional President Masoud Barzani

    This afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Iraqi Kurdistan Regional President Masoud Barzani. The Vice President and President Barzani discussed recent security and political developments. The Vice President discussed with President Barzani the passage of congressional legislation that removes certain undue restrictions on members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) under U.S. immigration laws. This new law should help ease the process for many Iraqi Kurds who wish to visit the United States. The Vice President commended the courage of the Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces fighting against ISIL, and President Barzani thanked the United States and the international community for their support. Both the Vice President and President Barzani noted the renewed cooperation between Erbil and Baghdad and agreed to work together, alongside other Iraqi leaders, to sustain and deepen collaboration among Iraq’s different communities. The Vice President underscored America’s enduring support for the Kurdish people and for the security of Iraq.

  10. December 18, 2014

    Readout of the President’s Call with President al-Sisi of Egypt

    President Obama spoke with Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi today to discuss the U.S.-Egyptian bilateral relationship and developments within the region. The President affirmed the United States’ continuing commitment to the strategic partnership with Egypt and emphasized the importance of bilateral cooperation to promote shared interests in counterterrorism and regional security. President Obama expressed his condolences to the Egyptian people for the spate of terrorists attacks they have suffered. The two leaders agreed on the importance of continuing their countries’ close military and intelligence relationships. President Obama also expressed concern about mass trials, the status of NGOs, and the continued imprisonment of journalists and peaceful activists in Egypt, and encouraged President al-Sisi to invest in the political, economic, and social aspirations of the Egyptian people. The two leaders agreed to stay in touch in the weeks and months ahead.

  11. December 18, 2014

    Readout of the President’s Call with Prime Minister al-Abadi of Iraq

    President Obama spoke by phone today with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to discuss the political and security situation in Iraq and the progress of Iraqi Security Forces in their efforts to counter ISIL. The President commended the steps that Prime Minister al-Abadi has taken in the first three months of his administration to govern inclusively and begin building a united front among Iraqis to combat ISIL. The President congratulated the Prime Minister on the conclusion of the recent oil revenue-sharing arrangement with the Kurdistan Regional Government and reiterated his commitment to supporting the Iraqi Security Forces’ success through train and assist programs, provision of weapons and equipment, and airstrikes. He also noted U.S. support for the Iraqi government’s ongoing efforts to integrate Sunni tribal fighters into Iraq’s security institutions.

  12. Alaska Safe Families and Villages Act of 2014

    12/18/14 President Obama signed into law S. 1474, Alaska Safe Families and Villages Act of 2014, which repeals current law limitation on jurisdiction of Indian tribes in the State of Alaska over domestic violence.

    Alaska Safe Families and Villages Act of 2014 – (Sec. 4) Directs the Attorney General to establish the Alaska Safe Families and Villages Self Governance Intergovernmental Grant Program to make grants to Indian tribes to implement intergovernmental agreements with Alaska related to tribal enforcement of certain state laws.

    Requires each tribe selected to participate in the Program to request participation by resolution or other official tribal action and meet specified criteria.

    Requires tribes to use the grants to carry out a planning phase and activities in accordance with an intergovernmental agreement with Alaska.

    Provides that the intergovernmental agreements may describe the duties of Alaska and the Indian tribe regarding:

    * employment of law enforcement, probation, and parole officers;
    * appointment of tribal law enforcement officers as special officers to * assist in the enforcement of the state’s criminal laws;
    * enforcement of punishments imposed under tribal law;
    * transfer of enforcement duties for state drug- and alcohol-related
    misdemeanor offenses to the Indian tribe and the tribe’s adjudication of those offenses;
    * transfer of information and evidence between tribal law enforcement entities and the state’s court system;
    * offender detention;
    * searches and seizures of alcohol and drugs at municipal and state airports; and jurisdictional or financial matters.

    For more: https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-bill/1474

  13. WH

    Friday, December 19, 2014

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    1:00 PM
    1:30 PM
    President Obama holds the end-of-the-year press conference
    Brady Briefing Room

    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    5:45 PM
    The First Family departs the White House en route Andrews Air Force Base
    South Lawn

    5:55 PM
    The First Family departs Andrews Air Force Base en route Honolulu, Hawai’i

    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM
    10:10 PM
    The First Family arrives Honolulu, Hawai’i

  14. Americans Seen Getting Spending Groove Back in 2015: Economy

    Dec 19, 2014 6:50 AM PT By Victoria Stilwell – bloomberg

    A strengthening labor market and lower gasoline prices mean Americans have extra cash for the holidays. Some economists are forecasting the money will keep flowing into, and out of, consumers’ pockets next year.

    Household spending in 2015 will realize the type of gain typically associated with rosier economic times, according to economists including Mark Zandi. Instead of growing at the 2.2 percent average seen so far during this expansion, increases will be more in line with the 2.9 percent seen in the six years through 2007, if not the 4 percent surge during the record 10-year boom that ended in March 2001.

    Unlike the recovery in stocks and home values that mostly benefited the well off during the first phase of this recovery, rising employment and low inflation are a boon to a wider swath of Americans. With expenditures accounting for almost 70 percent of the economy, outlays on items including furniture, clothing and restaurant meals will propel growth to a higher level.

    “I don’t think there’s a single headwind for consumers, it’s all tailwinds blowing at different strengths,” said Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, who projects consumer spending will grow 3.3 percent in 2015. “The expansion is truly out of the gates. We’re off and running.”

    While most forecast purchases will strengthen, Zandi is among the most optimistic. Economists predict personal consumption will grow at a 2.8 percent annualized pace in the fourth quarter following a 2.2 percent gain in the previous three months, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey taken Dec. 5 to Dec. 10. It will increase 2.7 percent in 2015, making it the best year since 2006, the survey showed.

    For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-19/americans-seen-getting-groove-back-with-spending-burst-in-2015.html

  15. Employment Gains Extended From Vermont to Hawaii in November

    Dec 19, 2014 7:35 AM PT By Victoria Stilwell – TheHill

    Payrolls rose in 37 states in November from Vermont to Hawaii and the unemployment rate fell in 41 amid accelerating improvement in the U.S. labor market.

    California led the nation with a 90,100 increase in employment, followed by a 41,900 advance in Florida, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington.

    Payroll gains are shoring up consumer confidence and raising overall income levels, giving households the inclination and the means to spend. While the pace of hiring continues to vary geographically and by industry, gradually shrinking labor-market slack should help boost economic growth and provide a much-needed lift to wages.

    “Businesses have been running with extremely tight workforce levels, and as demand has been improving consistently, they’re finding they need to hire just to keep up with new orders coming in the door,” said Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit. “Over time most states will see continued recovery.”

    Vermont showed the biggest percentage gain in employment with a 1.2 percent increase, followed by Hawaii at 0.9 percent. States where payrolls decreased included West Virginia and Mississippi.

    For more:http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-19/payrolls-increased-in-37-states-in-november-led-by-california.html

  16. *******************
    THIS POST IS NOW CLOSED NBLB

    Come on over to my newest post titled: ” President Obama 2014 Year In Review″

    ********************

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