This is what left me breathless this morning as a journalist who has been traveling to Cuba on a regular basis for more than two decades. It’s a message on Twitter from the US Embassy in Havana just after US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech.
¡La bandera de los Estados Unidos ondea ahora en La Habana! #KerryenCuba #USCuba pic.twitter.com/6Jp9FdncP6
As it says above, “The flag of the United States waves now in Havana.”
I longed for this moment for 23 years since the first time I visited Cuba as a young journalist with M. Shanken Communications, the publisher of Cigar Aficionado and The Wine Spectator. The first time I visited Cuba in 1992, I was amazed by the history and energy of the country and its people.
I understood the history of Cuba and the United States but I couldn’t understand why more communication between our two countries didn’t exist even though Cubans were incredibly friendly and warm to me as an American. And I always thought that until this morning, when the American flag flew on the grounds of the former US Interest Section building and now, once more, the U.S. Embassy. This is an incredible and new period for American and Cuban relations.
No one seemed to notice, but I did, that dozens of black flag poles that were erected years ago in front of the now U.S. Embassy had been painted white. This more than anything for me illustrated the change in my government’s relationship with Cuba. The black flag poles with black flags always sadly reminded me of the dysfunctional relationship America had with Cuba. I thought about that every time I drove by them on the Malecón, the principle costal thoroughfare in Havana linking the various parts of the city. But they are no longer part of the scenery. They are, happily, history.
Indeed, as the Secretary of State said, “We are gathered here because our leaders made a courageous decision to stop being prisoners of history.”
The future is so exciting and I plan to be part of it as an American as well as publisher of www.havanainsider.com. I hope you will be part of it as well.
I am going to smoke a Cuban cigar today to celebrate this very special moment in history. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out my award-winning documentary on Cuban cigars: Cigars: The Heart & Soul of Cuba. It’s not just about cigars. It about the Cuban people and their amazing character.
-James Suckling is Co-Publisher and Editor of HavanaInsider.com