Posted at 10:27 AM
Last Friday, I traveled to Havana, Cuba, as part of Secretary John Kerry’s official delegation for the flag-raising ceremony at the U.S. Embassy. I was proud to join other delegation members including Treasury Deputy Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin and a several members of the House and Senate.
It was an inspiring and historic day. As Secretary Kerry stated in his remarks, “The establishment of normal diplomatic relations is not something that one government does as a favor to another; it is something that two countries do together when the citizens of both will benefit. And in this case, the reopening of our embassies is important on two levels: People-to-people and government-to-government.”
While highlighting the importance of increasing people-to-people connections, Secretary Kerry noted that travel from the United States to Cuba has already increased by 35 percent since January and is continuing to go up. He encouraged engagement that would continue to create opportunities for Cuba’s own rising number of entrepreneurs.
During my time in Havana, I met with Cuban entrepreneurs to hear more about the Cuban private sector and the impact that the regulatory changes Commerce and Treasury made earlier this year are having on their ability to strengthen and engage in independent economic activity on the island.
Earlier this year, Secretary Pritzker said that restoring the diplomatic relationship is, in part, about helping to build an economic future that empowers the Cuban people; develops a genuine Cuban private sector; and creates new opportunities for all Americans to do business with the people of an island just 90 miles off the coast.
Friday’s flag raising is another step in that direction.