Documents to download

In December 2014, after 18 months of secret negotiations, US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro made simultaneous announcements in Washington and Havana on a ‘new course’ for US-Cuban relations. Conditions for the new relationship included the release of Cuban and US prisoners.

President Castro also called for the return of the US base at Guantánamo Bay, an end to the US trade embargo on Cuba and compensation for economic damages caused by the embargo, before the two countries could re-establish normal relations.

Despite recent progress President Obama cannot lift the embargo without the approval of the US Congress. There have been some signs of a shift in opinions across Congress but how far the new US Cuba policy can go if it doesn’t command majority support remains to be seen.

The UK Government supports an end to the US embargo, but continues to press the Cuban Government to improve respect for human rights in the country.

The EU lifted sanctions against Cuba in 2008 and the EU Council later resumed a political dialogue with Cuba, which included discussion of “issues of mutual interest including the respect and promotion of human rights”. Representatives from the EU and Cuba met in March 2015 for a third round of negotiations. The two sides aim to finalise the framework for their dialogue and agreement by the end of 2015.

In the first round of direct US-Cuba talks in January 2015 migration was discussed, but the two sides agreed to disagree on other issues.

President Obama used executive powers in January 2015 to ease restrictions on travel, commerce and financial dealings between the US and Cuba.

In April 2015 Presidents Obama and Castro held historic talks in the margins of the Summit of the Americas. This was the first time the leaders of the two countries had met in over 50 years.

In May 2015 the US officially lifted its designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Embassies were opened in both countries in July 2015.

Documents to download

Related posts