Local residents in Havana welcomed the news of improved relations with the United States after Cuban President Raul Castro and US President Barack Obama announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between both countries on Wednesday.
Residents also celebrated the news of the release of the three remaining “Cuban Five” (intelligence agents) prisoners held in the United States, as part of a series of developments to restore diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US.
Resident Olga Jimenez said she was celebrating because the release of the prisoners would fix relations between the two countries.
Former head of the US Interests Section in Havana, Wayne Smith, said the re-establishing of diplomatic relations was in the interests of the Caribbean nation.
“I don’t think Cuba sees any advantage, maybe they did at one point but not anymore certainly, any advantage in being the adversary of the United States,” he said on Wednesday.
In addition to the release of the Cuban Five prisoners, the re-establishment of diplomatic ties was accompanied by Cuba’s release of American Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned for five years in the country.
Gross, a contractor for USAID (United States Agency for International Development) was arrested in December 2009 and later sentenced to 15 years after Cuban authorities said he tried to smuggle illegal technology into the country.
Wednesday’s announcements followed more than a year of secret talks between the US and Cuba, including clandestine meetings in Canada and the Vatican and personal involvement from Pope Francis.
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