Cuba at 502009
With three hurricanes that devastated up the 30% of agricultural production and countless homes, the Cuban government decided to keep a low profile in staging the commemoration for the 50tiest anniversary of the revolution. It took place on January 1st 2009 in the Cespedes Park in Santiago de Cuba and had a mere 3000 invited guests with no foreign dignitaries present. Raul Castro that replaced his brother Fidel as head of state in 2008, made a discourse focused on the past. By what was said it would have been impossible even to glimpse at the possibility of a rapprochement with the US. On December 17th 2014, United States president Barak Obama announced the first steps towards a normalization of diplomatic relations that were non existent since 1961. It was announced (breaking a taboo of US foreign policy) that Cuban and U.S. officials would work toward establishing embassies in Havana and Washington. The US would relax some restrictions on travel, trade, agricultural exports and financial transactions. The U.S. State Department would also review Cubas status as a state sponsor of terrorism. In exchange Cuba would allow more freedom of expression and relax its harsh policy toward political dissent. On the same day Raul Castro in a cautious speech from Havana confirmed the rapprochement and praised the steps taken by President Obama. President Obama has the legal authority to immediately implement the measures he announced, but he has left the issue of formally lifting the trade embargo up to the US Congress where opposition is expected. Meanwhile Canadian travel agencies advertise that Cuba should be visited immediately before the influx of the Yankees begins.