“Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba. In the most significant change in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” pronounced President Barack Obama on December 17, 2014.
Listening to the President’s statement, Felix Mwenetombwe, former Economic Chief Deputy of the French Embassy in Cuba, posted on his Facebook account, “U.S. relations with Cuba: the last stone of the Berlin Wall has just fallen…Great!” 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which became an iconic symbol of the Cold War. Despite the bringing down of the Wall, U.S. relations with Cuba remained frozen.
He mentioned to Arlington Public News that, for those in the diplomatic corps in Cuba, several signals, including the historic handshake in South Africa between President Obama and Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela’s funeral in 2013, led them to think that the renewal of U.S. relations with Cuba was only a matter of time. Nevertheless, the President Obama’s decision still came as a surprise.
Felix Mwenetombwe is now Director of Carilink, a consulting firm based in Panama that provides advice and services to companies that want to export to, and invest in, Cuba and Latin America.