American flag raised in Havana for first time in 54 years
HAVANA — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerrycalled for an end to “mutual isolation” and issued an impassioned plea for democracy in Cuba as the American flag was raised outside the recently reopened U.S. Embassy here Friday for the first time in 54 years.
“The time is now to reach out to one another as two peoples who are no longer enemies or rivals but neighbors,” said Kerry, who oversaw the event that followed a similar flag-raising ceremony last month outside the Cuban Embassy in Washington. “It is time to unfurl our flags, raise them up and let the world know that we wish each other well.”
The flag raising represents the latest step in the changing relationship between the two nations since President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced an end to the diplomatic freeze in December. On Friday, Kerry applauded the two leaders for their “courageous decision” and thanked Pope Francis, who helped facilitate a dialog between the two nations and will visit Cuba next month before traveling to the U.S.