US, Cuba Enter 'New Chapter' With Embassies Reopening

President Obama announces the formal reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries for the first time in more than 50 years.
6:29 | 07/01/15

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Transcript for US, Cuba Enter 'New Chapter' With Embassies Reopening
More than 54 years ago. At the height of the Cold War the United States closed its embassy in Havana. Today I can announce the United States has agreed to formally reestablish. Diplomatic relations would be Republic of Cuba. And reopen 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 Americans. 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 reopening. After all our nations are separated by only ninety miles and their 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 door opens. The United States that men clinging to a policy that was not working. Instead of supporting democracy and up to me for the Cuban people. Our efforts isolate Cuba despite good intentions increasingly heavy ops of the fact. Cementing the status quo on isolating the United States from our neighbors in this hemisphere. The progress that we mark today as yet another demonstration that we don't have to be imprisoned by the past. Something isn't working we can and will change. Last December I announced that the United States and Cuba decided to take steps to normalize our relationship. It's part of that effort president Raul Castro and I've directed our teams to negotiate the re establishment of embassies. Since then our State Department has worked hard went there Cuban counterparts to achieve that goal. And later this summer secretary Kerry will travel to Havana formally. Took probably raised the American flag over our embassy once more. This is not merely symbolic. Would this change we will be able to substantially increase our contacts with the Cuban people. We'll have more personnel at our embassy and our diplomats will have the ability to engage more broadly across the aisle. No include the Cuban government civil society. And ordinary Cubans were reaching for a better life. On issues of common interest like counter terrorist disaster response and development. We will find new ways to cooperate with Q. And I've been clear that we will also continue to have some very serious differences. No include America's enduring support for universal values like freedom of speech and assembly. In the ability to access information. And we will not hesitate to speak out when we see action to contradict those values. Our bright strongly believe that the best way for America to support our values is through engagement. That's why we have are taken steps to allow for greater travel. People to people and commercial ties between the United States and Cuba and we will continue to do so point four. Since December we've already seen enormous enthusiasm for this new approach. Leaders across the Americas have expressed support for our change in policy you heard. That expressed by then president Dilma Rousseff of Brazil yesterday. Public opinion surveys in both our countries show broad support for this engagement. One Cuban said I prepared for this all my wife. And others said that this is like a shot of oxygen. When Cuban teacher put simply. We are neighbors. Now we can be friends. Here in the United States we've seen that same enthusiasts. Are Americans want to travel to Cuba American businesses want to invest in Cuba. American colleges and universities. That want partner with Q. Above all Americans want to get to know their neighbors to the south and through that engagement. We also help the Cuban people improve their own lives. When Cuban American look forward to reuniting families and opening lines of communications. Another put it bluntly. You can't hold the future of Cuba hostage to what happened in the past. That's what this is about. Choice between the future and the past. Americans and Cubans alike are rated move forward. I believe it's time for congress who say. I've called on congress to take steps to lift the embargo the prevents Americans from traveling or doing business in Cuba. We've already seen members from both parties begin that work. After all why should Washington stand in the way of our own people. Yes there are those who want to turn back the clock and double down on a policy of isolation. But as long past time for us to realize that this approach doesn't work that has worked for fifty years. Shuts America out of Cuba's future and only makes life worse for the Cuban people so I've asked congress to listen the Cuban people. Let's agree American people. But in the words. A proud Cuban American Carlos group yet it's. Recently came out against the policy of the past. Saying I wonder if the Cubans who have. Have to stand in line for most basic necessities for hours in the hot of them a son feel that this approach is helpful to them. Of course nobody expects Cuba to be transformed overnight. But I believe that American engagement through our embassy our businesses and most of all through our people is the best way to advance our interest and support. For democracy and human rights. Time again America's demonstrated the part of our leadership of the world's our capacity to change. It's what inspires the world's reach for something better. A year ago it might seem impossible to the United States would once again be raising our flag. Stars and stripes over an embassy in of that. This what change looks like. In January of 1961. The Euro was born when president Eisenhower announced. The termination of our relations from Cuba he said it is my hope and my conviction that it is in the not too distant future. It will be possible for the historic friendship between us once again to find its reflection in normal relations of every sort. Well it took awhile but I believe that time has come. And a better future lies ahead. Thank you very much and I want to thank so my team. Who worked diligently to make this happen they're here that always get acknowledged. We're really proud of him. For work.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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