The official inauguration of the U.S. embassy in Havana is going to take place in August when John Kerry visits the island. Such an event is worth celebrating. However, Cubans and Americans and everybody else for that matter already have something to celebrate. Barack Obama’s attendance at the inauguration of the embassy is not planned, but it would be very welcome. In fact, Obama is likely to be the most popular U.S. president in Cuba ever. After his presidential dance with Michelle, it would be no wonder if he danced to Caribbean music. Anyway, the truth is that diplomatic relations have finally been restored and with them, the embargo has ended.
Since July 20, the Cuban flag is one of the 192 in the entrance hall of the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. In addition, the U.S. embassy building in Havana is being restored. The interior is being painted and the garden is also being taken care of. Such a functionalist building, which is characteristic of those built in the 1950s, is going to come back to life and so is the Cuban mansion in Washington, located on 16th Street NW. The embassy of Switzerland, which was responsible for Cuban affairs, will be less important, so the U.S. and Cuba can take it back.
It has taken 54 years to restore this relationship, not to mention some events that I wish had not happened. Yet, I think that there is something that should be highlighted and that journalists have not given enough attention. It is unarguable that the main roles in the restoration of relations have been played by four men: Barack Obama and Raúl Castro and, less importantly, John F. Kerry and Bruno Rodríguez. However, there was a woman behind each of these pairs of men. It should be mentioned that the first round of talks to restore diplomatic relations took place last Dec. 17. Such talks were led by two women: Roberta S. Jacobson of the United States and Josefina Vidal Ferreiro of Cuba. There is no doubt that their work, although cautious, has been successful in bringing back peace. In other words, these two women advise Kerry and Rodriguez, and these Kerry and Rodriguez advise Obama and Castro.
Ferreiro, who heads the Cuban Foreign Relations Ministry North American Division, looks somehow American and speaks English perfectly. She also knows French and Russian, while Jacobson, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, is somewhat Latin and speaks Spanish with a sweet Peruvian accent, the country where she lived for a couple of years.
In the beginning of June, Obama appointed Jacobson to head the negotiations with Cuba.
It is also worth mentioning the old and well-known Spanish saying that there is a great woman behind each important man. In this case, it was these two women who were behind two important men. The two women did brilliant work. They were not interested in being photographed, but in being cautious. So both presidents should be congratulated: for appointing these two cautious and strong women to their countries’ departments of state, and because, after having broken the ice, they have achieved the necessary peace.