U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry chaired here on Friday the formal ceremony of raising the American flag in the recently reopened U.S. embassy in Cuba, after 54 years of animosity between the two neighbors.
James Tracy, Mike and Larry Morris East, the three Marines who had lowered the flag on Jan. 4, 1961, were in charge of delivering the standard to other three young marines who raised the Stars and Stripes on this special occasion.
Kerry is the first secretary of state to visit Cuba since 1945.
In his opening speech, partially in English partially in Spanish, Kerry said: "there is nothing to fear, as we will enjoy many benefits when we allow our citizens to know each other better, to visit each other more often, to do business as usual, exchange ideas and learn from each other."
With regard to the U.S. economic, financial and trade blockade for over 50 years on Cuba, he said, "The embargo has always been a two-way street. The two sides have to remove the obstacles that have kept Cubans away."
The U.S. and Cuba are not "prisoners of history", noted Kerry, adding that "Raul Castro and Barack Obama made courageous decisions," referring to the decision to start a process for resuming and normalizing bilateral relations.
"My friends, a GPS is not needed to realize that the path of mutual isolation and alienation that the U.S. and Cuba have followed is incorrect and that now is the time to move forward in a more promising direction," said the top U.S. diplomat.
Kerry also recalled his visit to Vietnam last week to celebrate the 20 years since the normalization of relations between the U.S. and the Asian country as an example of President Obama's conciliatory policy.
Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez will give a joint press conference on Friday afternoon.