On Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced that both the United States and Cuba would reopen their respective embassies, a key component of his plan to renew diplomatic ties with the country. The president announced America’s official rapprochement with Cuba in December—then drew both anger and praise by shaking President Raùl Castro’s hand at a summit in April. Obama struck a note of conciliation in his announcement, declaring:
Our nations are separated by only 90 miles, and there are 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 of doing things.
He also noted that America would not compromise its principles in order to appease Cuba, taking a not-so-subtle dig at the Castro regime’s suppression of free expression:
We will also continue to have some very serious differences. That will include America’s enduring support for universal values like freedom of speech and assembly, and the ability to access information. We will not hesitate to speak out when we see actions that contradict those values. However, I strongly believe that the best way for America to support our values is through engagement.
Republicans in Congress remain generally hostile to the rapprochement. Any executive diplomatic efforts are unlikely to be accompanied by federal legislation.