While in Havana, President Raul Castro informed the Cuban people that the three counter-terrorists were already in the Island, after suffering more than 16 years in prison in US jails and the decision of the United States and Cuba to restore diplomatic relations, President Barack Obama did the same in Washington. "These 50 years have shown that isolation does not work. Time for a new approach," the US president was quoted as saying by The New York Times.
The television of that country showed images of the USAID Agent Alan Gross coming to Edwards Air Force Base in Washington, Telesur showed the color and the joy of spontaneous demonstrations of the Cuban people waving flags and celebrating the return of their heroes Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero.
The information from the United States showed press conferences by the State Department, by Alan Gross, and political statements in favor and against the event.
Kerry emphasizes importance of the decision
The Secretary of State, John Kerry, stressed the importance of the decision and said that now is the time to work with the Cuban people, because the policy maintained was further isolating Washington, and announced that a delegation from the State Department would travel to the island in January -to participate in migration talks- chaired by the Assistant Secretary of the Department of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson.
The chief US diplomat noted further that he has ordered his team to presenta proposal on the possible elimination of Cuba from the unilateral list of countries that sponsor terrorism, adding that he hopes to be the first Secretary of State in 60 years visit the island, reported PL.
For over half a century, our policy towards Havana has remained virtually frozen, and has failed to advance US goals in the continent, said John Kerry, who noted that since 2009 Obama has made some changes in relationships by relaxing the restrictions on remittances and travel to Cuban Americans, but the new opening announced on Wednesday in Washington commits to a more ambitious policy.
The Secretary of State explained that changes in ties with Cuba will require an investment of time, energy and resources.
It was further learned that the director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Rajiv Shah, said Wednesday that he will resign, but in a statement he does not explain the reasons. USAID is at the centre of criticism after the recent publication of an investigation by the news agency Associated Press (AP), which revealed subversive methods applied against Cuba, like ZunZuneo and the operation to capture hip-hop musicians .
USAID also tried to introduce into Cuba, illegally, satellite and telephone communication means of through the subcontractor Alan Gross, released on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, The New York Times, which recently published a series of editorials and articles in favour of restoring relations, commenting on the news said that the United States has closed down one of the most misguided foreign policy chapters, and ratified their support for this "bold move" with which the White House was marking an era of transformations for millions of Cubans who have suffered as a result of over 50 years of hostilities.
The editorial said that Obama "has gone as far as he can" within the limits of an outdated 1996 law -the Helms Burton- which imposed harsh sanctions on Cuba. "These 50 years have shown that isolation does not work. It is time for a new approach," said Obama.
The New York newspaper also argued that the US administration officials acknowledge that it is unlikely that Congress will take additional steps towards a healthier relationship with Cuba in the short term, and PL ventured a prediction: "In all likelihood, history will show Obama was right"in his decision.
The Wall Street Journal noted that now a "new chapter" for both countries is opening, as The Hill called this route change towards normalization of binational links as historic. In turn, The Washington Post headlined "United States puts an end to the Cold War confrontation with Cuba".
The major television media in this country broadcast live the words of Obama, as well as part of the speech by President Raul Castro from Havana.
Meanwhile, the Vatican revealed the mediation of Pope Francis, the first Latin American Pope in history, in a statement a few hours after the important announcements in which both the Cuban president and the US President recognized the personal intervention by the Pontiff and labelled it as "crucial", reported AFP.
Latin America and the Caribbean celebrate
In Paraná, Argentina, the news broke while the 47th Summit of Heads of State of Mercosur was in session, and who celebrated the "historic" announcement. President Cristina Fernandez sent "an immense greeting and with profound respect for the dignity of the Cuban people and their government who knew how to uphold their ideals and today with absolute dignity and on equal terms normalized their relations."
"When people are willing and are led by leaders who do not betray them sooner or later they always reach their goals," said the Argentina President to the applause of other dignitaries, reported DPA.
"We are very happy as Argentineans, as South Americans, as political activists, for all this we thought we were never going to see," said Fernandez at the end of the half yearly Mercosur summit, reported EFE.
Nicolás Maduro, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, praised "the release of the three heroes of the Caribbean nation, who are already in their land" and said: "The start of these talks between Cuba and the United States is a triumph of ethics and morals; and of resistance and values. It is an historic victory for Fidel and the Cuban people ", reported the local agency DyN.
Maduro, ANSA said, added that "we must recognize the gesture of President Barack Obama. It is a gesture of courage and necessary in history "and called it "an historical rectification ."
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who became president pro tempore of Mercosur, also celebrated and said: "I want to greet President Raul Castro and President Barack Obama and especially Pope Francis for being central to this approach, marking a change in civilization ", DPA reported.
In Managua, the Nicaraguan capital, a press release from the Government of National Unity and Reconciliation reported that President Daniel Ortega, on behalf of all the people, greeted with joy the agreements between Cuba and Washington that put an end to "the unjust imprisonment» of Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio and because it retakes "the rational and intelligent route of diplomatic relations."
"No doubt that in the coming days we will continue being witness and protagonists in this Our America, new steps that contribute to the heroic and consistent Cuban people continuing to surprise the world by deploying all its capabilities" and continue developing "the process leading to the end of the arbitrary, illegal and inhumane blockade."
Salvador Sanchez Ceren, president of El Salvador, called the event "an historic agreement" and said that "it is a sign of peace, progress and development".
"A day of good news in the Patria Grande" tweeted Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, referring to the decision of Cuba and the US to restore diplomatic relations, and the indefinite ceasefire declared by the Revolutionary People's Army of Colombia (FARC-EP) Forces.
For her part, the president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet said: "We deeply value it, certainly we support it ... and we pray that the normalization occurs shortly".
The president of Peru, Ollanta Humala, described the act as "a brave and historic decision" and said that "in addition, a strategic political dialogue is beginning across America, with Cuba present."
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, expressed full readiness to help to achieve "an effective normalization" of relations, and also the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, whose Foreign Ministry reiterated "the invitation sent to the Heads of State and Government of the region during the next Summit of the Americas (...) we can have a constructive dialogue with the participation of all countries ," reported EFE.
Likewise did the president of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina, who congratulated the United States and Cuba, a message reiterated by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, José Miguel Insulza, and other leaders of the region.
Insulza said that "the measures announced today will open the way for normalization with no turning back" and asked the US Congress "to take the necessary legislative measures to lift the embargo (blockade) against Cuba, which is still in force" .
On the list of the satisfactions were the President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, and that of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis, who joined in saying it "opens a new moment in the US dialogue with Latin America".
The satisfaction has been global. That was expressed in the UN by its Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who called it "very good news" in these "troubled times", EFE reported.
From Brussels, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Policy, Federica Mogherini, said that this is a victory for dialogue. "Today a new wall has begun to fall," she said in a statement quoted by AFP.
Solidarity Always Present
The president of the Independence Party of Puerto Rico Rubén Berríos thinks that “this is the beginning of the end of a policy of arrogance and aggression against Cuba for more than 50 years that will have transcendental consequences for Latin America and the Caribbean.” He also noted that if the U.S. decision is the beginning of the rectification towards Cuba, “then all that we need now is the rectification towards Puerto Rico,” PL reported.
Meanwhile, the social networks were flooded with congratulation messages, expressions of support for Cuba and its people, of acknowledgement for Fidel, the mastermind behind the return of the Five, who endured long years of unfair imprisonment, and also the news of popular celebrations for this victory.
Dozens of Ecuadorians gathered in the Cuban Embassy of Quito to celebrate the good news: they were joined by a number of Assembly members of the ruling Alianza PAIS, members of the coordination organization of solidarity with Cuba and Cubans residents in Ecuador. In Paraguay, Aníbal Carrillo, general secretary of the Frente Guasú, a coalition of parties and organizations, told Prensa Latina that the agreements reached with the United States were a victory for dignity and resistance and said it was an example of the consistent defence of the principles of self-determination of the Cuban people and its government and at the same time he spoke highly of the courage and sacrifice of the Cuba anti-terrorism fighters that endured long and unfair sentences in U.S. prisons and are now free and back in their Homeland.
Translated by ESTI