Months of secret talks result in diplomatic thaw on US-Cuba relations

Cuba

As 2014 came to an end, the United States and Cuba were back on speaking terms. That’s 54-years after cold war hostilities began and just 2 weeks after Presidents Obama and Castro made simultaneous and historic announcements on restoring relations. CCTV America’s Michael Voss reported from Havana.

Months of secret talks result in diplomatic thaw on US-Cuba relations

As 2014 came to an end, the United States and Cuba were back on speaking terms. That's 54-years after cold war hostilities began and just 2 weeks after Presidents Obama and Castro made simultaneous and historic announcements on restoring relations. CCTV America's Michael Voss reported from Havana.

This has been a triumphant end to the year for Cuban President Raul Castro. After months of secret negotiations, he secured a historic agreement with the United States to end more than half a century of confrontation and restore diplomatic relations.

Cubans took to the streets celebrating what they hope could mark the end of one of the last major conflicts, which was a leftover from the Cold War. Now they were wondering what benefits it will bring.

It’s been a busy year for Cuba diplomatically among others, with visits by world leaders from China and Russia.

In January, Raul Castro hosted a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Sates (CELAC). It was created to include Cuba, but not the United States and Canada.

Cuba had its first face-to-face secret negotiations with the U.S. in June of 2013. That same month Cuba refused to allow U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden fly here. While Washington didn’t make a big issue about Cuban weapons found hidden aboard a ship bound for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Perhaps the turning point was Cuba’s rapid response to the Ebola crisis. For the first time the U.S. administration publicly applauded Cuba after it sent hundreds of doctors to West Africa.

Just because the two sides look set to restore diplomatic relations didn’t mean that they have sorted out all of their differences. Cuba was not about to change politically, and there were likely to be all sorts of difficulties and confrontations along the way.

There was already an conflict over Joanne Chesimard, now known as Assata Shakur. She is an American fugitive convicted of killing a police officer. She escaped from prison and fled to Cuba in 1984. The U.S. wanted her back, Cuba said it granted her political asylum.

Negotiations are due to begin in January on re-opening the embassies. The U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments are also due to report next year on just what changes will be allowed to ease some trade and banking limits and expand travel.