US Embassy in Havana Now Open for Business

In the same building that housed the US Interests Section


Photo Feature by Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — On Monday morning several news media and US and Cuban citizens gathered in front of the newly reopened US embassy in Havana. On August 14, US Secretary of State John Kerry is awaited here to hoist the flag.

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54 thoughts on “US Embassy in Havana Now Open for Business

  • 50+ years is rapid?

  • So, you don’t drive a car, but you still look like a foreigner in shorts and sandals, less for the color of your skin, many Cubans are “White”, than the way you walk and posture and gesture. In fact the instructions to the security staff at the Havana Libre and the Koli hotels were to intercept and question anybody who was well dressed and groomed. If they were wearing sandals with no socks, dirty runners, shorts, stained or torn or wrinkled t-shirts/shirts, not shaved or combed, they were not to bother them for they were foreigners and/or guests. The point here is that your survey is pretty meaningless when you consider how long we have been trading genes in Cuba.
    “Black” in the USA is anybody that has any obvious African genes expressed in their appearance.
    “Blacks” in Cuba are only those that are considered to come from pure or mostly pure African stock, expressed in their features, and have very dark skin.
    Most “African Americans” would be considered “Mulatos” in Cuba.
    You did not reveal the % of Cubans who were identified as “Mulatos”.
    Many Cubans who were classified as “White” are only so in appearance, and rather loosely at that, being carriers for African, Asian, Middle Eastern and Native Cuban genes.

    “El que no tiene de Lucumí, tiene de Carabalí” or “He who does not have (blood) from the Yoruba, has from the Calabari” (two enslaved West-African nations). This is the most popular saying in Cuba to define who we are as a people. Extensive DNA studies in Puerto Rico finds 89% of the population at large have recent (400 years or less) West African genetic markers, 72% had Sephardi Jewish markers, and another big number was the North African contribution, besides the European genes. These did not have to be expressed in the appearance of the individual, to be present in her/him and viable for expression in the next generation. These results are considered to be generally in line with those for Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean coasts of Colombia, Panamá and Costa Rica where similar patterns of colonial occupation and development occurred. I sure do know a hell of a lot more about Cuba than you could know with your eyes closed as they are.

  • Stick to the topic.
    The opening of Embassies and re-forging of diplomatic and economic relations marks the end of our long battle with the USA without having to change anything or comply with any demands from Uncle Sam! Hum, guess who blinked?

  • I spent a lot less time thinking about my 30,000 year old heritage of being clean and washing than you do looking for toilet paper! The Gomezz Method is all inclusive about personal cleanliness and hygiene, head to toe, and it’s very simple: if it’s dirty, wash it, if it smells, wash it, if you have doubts, wash it. You, on your other stinky hand, have demonstrated your contempt for such ideas as many, many other Europeans/North Americans have throughout History, so is no surprise to me; I’ve already written my observations on European and North American lack of general cleanliness and personal hygiene but is also not the point of the article you are supposed to be commenting on. The USA is ceasing hostilities against us and are opening an embassy to re-establish diplomatic and re-organize economic relations between our countries without Cuba having to bow to any demands for regime change or any other intrusion into our National Sovereignty.
    I smell Victory, and it’s definitely not coming from you, Carlyle, and it’s not “the smell of napalm in the morning”, you’d all wish for in our Country.

  • What arrogant self satisfaction. The “predominance” you claim can only be a reference to:
    The Gomezz method.

  • Well despite your claim that because you carry a can of water and a bar of soap in pursuit of anal cleanliness and your bragging about your expertise in the subject, you have failed to make friends and influence many of the contributors to these columns. I have to admit that you are the first person with whom I have had any contact in a long life, who spends time wondering about how people cleansed their bums 30,000 years ago.
    I have to admit that your interest in the subject merits you describing anal cleansing as:
    “the Gomezz method”
    Long may it be known as such!
    The rest of us focus on the scarcity of toilet paper in the military owned shops in Cuba and the consequent increase in the circulation figures of “Granma” because it affects the majority of Cubans – few of whom can be seen carrying a can of water and bar of soap as they go about in their daily existence.

  • The Castros are to blame for drought, disease, hurricanes and just about everything according to your jaundiced opinion, this is where you go when you have 0 to say. It’s the Government of the USA that spends millions in promoting these ideas to brain-drain Cuba; it’s the Miami Cuban Mafia and all the Cuban-American relatives who lie and exaggerate about the ease of life and wealth in the USA; it’s Hollywood and the tele-novela “American Dream” machine with their rosy, “Matrix” view of life in the USA. You just can’t win this one, old man!

  • You obviously can’t read very well either, Carlyle. I have repeated several times that I live in Canada, I even invited you to a “caber-toss” in neutral territory, I’m in BC… Since you keep your eyes closed when you are in Cuba, the amount of time you spend there is meaningless…Is that all you have to “say” about my predominance over you, Griffin, IC and Moses and your ridiculous allegations and opinions in this forum?

  • Bien Sur, (Sure in French) Carlyle, I have already explained at length the benefits of personal hygiene and my expertise in the subject. Since all four of you are being so anal with your priority focus of Cuban scarcity, I felt moved to solve your problems with a can of water and a bar of soap that you would have to apply yourselves. Since it’s obvious that the idea of washing that private part and getting rid of residue, odor, bacteria and cling-ons is totally news to all of you, Carlyle, IC, Moses and Griffin, I volunteer out of consideration for yourselves and those closest to you. I suggest you practice the Gomezz method and you will see how it will improve your daily and nightly lives. You will be able to finally make friends and influence people!
    I wonder what all of humanity, living in society did before they had toilet paper, give or take 30,000 years. Do you now realize how contemptuous and banal your wailing is all about?

  • I note Gomezz that you live in the USA, not in Cuba.
    ALL Cubans come to the USA…………. I now realise why by spending well over half each year at home in Cuba I am more up-to-date with the country than you are. Hope you manage to convert your fellow Americans to soap and water rather than 2, 3 or 4 ply!

  • Why not prove your expertise on anal cleansing to all and at one of your breakfast briefings with Fidel and Raul persuade them to publish the drawings on the front page of Granma – to keep in touch so to speak.
    Springing to the defence of the Cuban State Police will bring you a lot of brownie points with your masters.
    I have never driven a car in Cuba and unlike Raul do not wear a dark suit, white linen shirt and silk tie, but a T shirt and shorts – no socks just sandals. Your imagination does you proud, but is blindly inaccurate.
    Look at the 2012 statistics published by the regime following the census of that year. Over half the Cubans are said to be white and 9.9% black. Just because you claim to be Cuban, doesn’t mean that you know what you are talking about – unless of course you stick to toilet paper!

  • The Castros are to blame for these false illusions. By denying the Cuban people full access to all media like most adults, Cubans are forced to form their impressions from second-hand sources at best. As a result, what Cubans take as reality are the absolute worst aspects which they get from Castro government sources or the absolute best outcomes as often portrayed on TV shows or Miami relatives on vacation.

  • Back yet again Gomezz to your anal cleansing expertise! Only you would claim to have sufficient expertise to claim being able to supply instructions!

  • ALL Cubans come to the USA with those illusions, Moses, not only the ones that fail. Some progress, most manage and some just can’t adapt.

    You have just provided the best answer of all to IC’s incessant question: “Why do people leave Cuba for the USA”? Thank You!!!

  • a thousand men will pass through life and add up to nothing , on the other hand one man will come along and add up better than a thousand men ,
    that man is Barack Hussein Obama
    I’m going to suggest an analogy over here ,
    Mr Obama tried lighting candles of hope in hell ,
    imagine with all the illumination they have in DC, yet they choose not to see the light .
    I think my president Barack Hussein Obama underestimated Washington rotten culture , and as we say in the Middle East no one picks firewood out of hell .
    looks like Mr Obama might succeed .

  • For the very first time Dan I totally agree with you!

  • That’s right. Cubans come to the USA because they are looking for opportunities, something unavailable in Cuba. You and I know this.

  • Lack of toilet paper, like the problems with food distribution is just a symptom of a wider problem, easy to make fun of until you need a “square”. That something as easy to produce is a constant issue in Cuba says volumes about the political/economic system.

    Perhaps you should go to Cuba with soap and a bucket and give some classes to the uninformed Cubans. ….but then again soap is another problem in Cuba.

  • Don’t make fun of my 4ply!

  • Well, your not wrong in your comments. What you say could very well happen. But I don’t see rug tourism as a big problem. Prostitution, something that is already a huge problem in Cuba, could however be exacerbated. It’s what happens when a prostitute makes more money than a doctor. And that will continue to be a problem until the Cuban economic model changes.

  • Except that President Obama, in 2007, promised that if elected, he would work to normalize relations with Cuba. No hidden agenda there.

  • You have confused the sheep-like obedience of a drunken guaijiro to the Jack Daniel’s-driven bravado of a University of Texas freshman. First of all, it will take two or three Cuban cops to cuff him and squeeze him into the tiny backseat space of those Chinese patrullas. Second, in this age of smartphone videos, the whole arrest episode will be uploaded to the YouTube and on CNN before the Texan sobers up. The Castros should be careful for what they wish for. ….

  • Who said the Authorities? Are you putting words in my mouth again, Mr. Patterson, and, shall we have another exercise in semantics? Besides, police beatings are much more rare in Cuba than in the USA by a long stretch; just watch “Cops”…
    I watched a cop arrest a drunken guajiro who had 20 minutes earlier chopped another in the neck-shoulder with a machete during a party and who was walking down our street in a tiny little town with the bloody machete still in hand at 1 am. The cop drove up to the man, asked him from inside the car to drop the machete and go turn himself in, as it would be much better for him than if he was brought in. The guy dropped the weapon and left for the police station, then the cop got out, asked the growing crowd of neighbors for a newspaper to wrap the machete and told the story of the events. I have never seen the Cuban cops abuse anyone ever.
    I expect our Cuban Authorities would just arrest, provide overnight accommodations and beat the hell out of their wallets in the morning, I also expect our cops to protect them from the ire of the people should these drunken louts choose pull aggressive or lewd behavior in neighborhoods or public places.

  • They are thinking they can make a lot of money in the USA, that stupid question seems to be the main platform of your condition and it has been answered many, many times already to everyone’s satisfaction except yours IC, of course, and the other naysayers we all know too well. What does 37,000 thousand Cuban “illegal” migrants into the USA per year really mean, Griff? Since the USA does not give out many permanent visas to Cubans, these are people who arrive into the USA by simply walking across the Mexican and Canadian borders or landing anywhere in the USA, and avail themselves to the “wet foot-dry foot” law. They arrive “illegally” because they don’t have a visa to enter the USA when they seek admission and their purpose is to exploit their talents and government funded education to make $, plain and simple. Only exception are the few “desesperados” and wanted criminals who risk their and often their children’s lives to cross the straights on a boat, which are very few indeed and in no way comparable to the mass migration on foot and in boats of literally millions of victims of the International Economic Venture Capitalist Order in Africa and southern Asia.

  • Man, you make such a fuss about something as banal as TP, as I said before, I have instructions about washing with soap and water, with drawings I can send you so you won’t have any more sanitary problems. Of course is not about Race you get stopped because you are and look an obvious foreigner and you are driving a car, which very few Cubans have, with an obviously Cuban woman and they would, naturally, suspect prostitution. We Cubans have from long ago been a “Mixed Race People”, and mixed couples are as common as same-race couples. Our own family has input from European, N. African, West African, Eastern Jewish and Native-Cuban stock. Zo, you are caught again twisting reality to suit your libelous ends.

  • Really? The first time a couple of guajiro cops rough up Biff or Bambi for drunk dancing on the base of the Jose Marti statue on the Malecon, you can kiss that whole tourist paradise dream goodbye. Just ask South Florida or Cancun police about what they won’t put up with. The Cuban people not only will put up with it but they will be organizing wet T-shirt contests in no time at all.

  • Come on, Moses, we are all aware of your intimate relationship with 4-ply Charmin, which sadly we are not able to provide you with in Cuba…I still have those instructions available anytime you need. Cuban People would never put up with the behavior which spoiled rotten, drunken students exhibit during Spring Break in the USA.

  • Tsk, tsk, IC, you of all people should know that if there is a demand, there will be a product. Nature and economics abhor a vacuum. Marijuana will be grown and cocaine/meth imported or made. This and prostitution are the negative edge of the U$A tourism “blade”. Today buying drugs in Cuba is not easy or inexpensive, but there already are some available in places like Varadero and Havana, even though penalties are very high. But it’s still much easier to buy drugs in the biggest drugstore of the world: The USA

    Yes, Nidal; it is a pit of vipers everywhere but at least we will know exactly who and where they are; and I do not foresee 10,000 employees but maybe 10,000 applications to work there amongst USA embassy staff personnel.

  • I don’t think the doomsday talk is necessary either, but I certainly agree with the sentiment. Normalizing diplomatic relations between countries is not synonymous with establishing colonial rule. I would hope that the collective, historical memory of Cubans (and wills of the non-corrupt politicians) is enough to prevent a wholesale rape and pillaging of the country. Allowing private enterprise is great, especially in the form of non-profits and worker/consumer cooperatives. But allowing foreign private investment, especially ownership of property, will be like juggling flaming razorblades on a tightrope.

    I mean, it would be nice, to have at least one, moderately well-functioning libertarian-socialist country in the world. Not that the US, China, Japan and the EU, wouldn’t try to stop that from happening, but we could at least try. After all, Cuban “socialism” did, kind of, survive the embargo, at the expense of creating a huge state apparatus. But open up exports to the US and the dictatorship of the proletariat (Castros) becomes obsolete.

  • Yes, I am being a little sarcastic…except about the toilet paper.

  • Dan, please read this part carefully: those Cubans who are disillusioned by the reality of life in the US generally arrived here with false illusions of grandeur. Many falsely believe that life in the US will not demand preparation and hard work. Many of the disillusioned hoped to live a life like they saw in the telenovelas. The reality of working every day, saving money and doing a little better step by step comes as a rude awakening.

  • Security in Cuba will not waver. The Castro family regime controls it through Alejandro Espin Castro, Raul’s son as Director and he has been well trained by Russia’s current equivalent of the KGB – which has been modelled by former KGB Colonel Vladamir Putin.

  • Dan, why do you continually fail to recognize the activities and hard work of the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba acting under the direction of the Castro family regime?
    “No ubiquitous advertising”. There are advertising hoardings spread liberally across the whole of Cuba from the Guanahabibes Peninsula in the west to Guanabo in the east. Have you not observed them? All those enormous ones about the Bloqueo? The dozens of ones they had about the five spies? The ones of Fidel and Raul smiling benignly down upon the subjugated peoples?
    The regime which allows property to collapse, killing a few of its subjects in the process, can always find the money necessary to pay for those massive hoardings, the size of which would be envied by L’Oreal or Nestle.

  • As you don’t know Havana or Cuba Mr. Goodrich you mistakenly think that the drunken US students on the Malecon (the road which stretches along the seawall all the way from Old Havana to Mirimar) will puke on “a nice beach”. There is no beach along the total length of the Malecon – just rock! Go take a look!

  • Sky, this year in our city in Cuba none of the military owned shops, TRD, CIMEX et al had any toilet paper for a period of over five (5) weeks. Distribution of Granma increased.
    Don’t get confused by thinking that Havana represents the norm for Cuba! I know our home is in Cuba and my wife is Cuban!
    Our problem when we make short visits to Havana, is being stopped by the State Police as we are mixed race.

  • Just take things slowly/

  • I do talk with them, IC in Cuba and the US. They think that the grass is greener over here, just like 10s of millions from capitalist countries who emigrate. Sometimes they are right. Many times Cubans who arrive here question or regret their decision after the gloss wears off.

  • thereis a huge difference between legitimate concerns about security An attempt to undermine a society ,
    I believe if it wasn’t for certain Chinese investment in Cuba United States would have never moved ,

  • Sooner or later Guantanamo Bay wall be repatriated to Cuba , I hope the environment in Guantanamo will not suffer the same as what happened in Panama . apparently after the US left some sites , Panamanian investigators found out that certain sites are nothing more than a toxic waste dumps US army simple left it behind walked of,
    I hope Cudan will not get carried away with the establishing of diplomatic relations and forget all the core issues that have to be looked into .

  • Mickey Mouse is very popular in Cuba. Cubans like American tourists as they are generous with their tips.

  • Absolutely. Resentment will go up, cost of living will go up without salaries increasing apace and crime will increase. And that is not even taking into account all the Cubans currently encarcerated in the US who the US will want to wash their hands of and return to Cuba asap.

  • Apparently the many Cubans who flee agree with your assessment. Dan and John really should have a talk with them. What are these Cubans thinking when they leave Cuba?

  • Moses you are joking aren’t you? Suggesting free WiFi within a block is compensation for the inevitable metaphorical bending over to be screwed by the US, is pretty demeaning to Cubans. And by the way when was the last time you were in Havana? You can buy toilet paper at any number of kiosks all over town and they didn’t need a US embassy for that!

  • What does that mean. Are you suggesting that Americans can now go to Cuba and buy easily available drugs? Otherwise I don’t see how they would access them, as travellers are thoroughly screened at U.S. airports, especially Miami, for drugs.

    ….Please do explain modal

  • The opening of the embassies is a good step forward with more 2-way communication. It’s nice to see the celebratory crowd in front of the embassy although I noticed there are still the Cuban guards on all sides of the property not allowing anyone to congregate too close to the compound. Let’s live the moment and not spoil it with negative rhetoric about drunken students and the end of law and order on the streets of Havana. With security the way it is in Cuba, I don’t think we’ll have very much of that. Of the thousands of American tourists bringing their US dollars into the country, I think you’ll find that the majority are peace-loving, respectful and friendly people. The few so-called “ugly Americans” will surely be dealt with quite efficiently by Cuban authorities.

  • This “non-culture” that you refer to has sent ‘selfies’ and ‘Justin Bieber’ to nearly every nook and cranny on the planet. No where in Cuba is far enough from the US to remain unaffected. By the way, the same guy who rails against fathers is the last guy qualified to make judgments about what is culture and what isn’t.

  • The Cuba you idolize only exists in the vacuum created after totalitarians outlaw private businesses, independent media and free speech. They do it by imposing a police state that lowers street crime at the expense of the right of free assembly. They offer universal health care and education but lower salaries to levels that force theft and corruption and government dependency. I make no illusions about the perfection of the US system. But one thing is for sure, if that ‘other’ way is the way that the Castros have forced upon the Cuban people, I will stay with what I have.

  • don’t forget all of drug addicts who’s going to embark on the island looking for a good time ,

  • The tourists will live luxurious lives while the entire Cuban population suffers under U.S.G.-imposed poverty just as in Mexico, Haiti, Puerto Rico and any number of Third World vacation spots there is that same dichotomy.
    The difference is that in those other Third World vacation destinations the poverty is caused by neo-liberal capitalism imposed by the USG and in Cuba the poverty is a deliberate strategy by the empire you love to starve the entire population of the island.
    So yeah, even with the declared economic war being waged upon the island, the Cubans will gladly take the Yankee dollar even from drunken U.S. students for whom Cuba is just a place without a history but with a nice beach to puke on.
    At least, for the most part, these exemplars of U.S. non-culture will be restricted to the tourist areas and not affect or infect the general population .

  • Every U.S. embassy has its complement of CIA and/or other intelligence officers.
    Its just part of running a world-controlling empire.
    When the Iranians took back their country from U.S. control in 1979 the surprise raid on the embassy caused the U.S. intelligence people to shred as many documents as they could.
    The Iranians sat down and reassembled those shredded documents and undoubtedly learned a great deal of the spy operations there during the imposition of the Shah on the people of Iran for some 25 years.
    It is only being completely rational to assume that a great many intelligence operatives will be stationed in the U.S. embassy in Havana.
    I’m sure all the Cubans know this unlike most people in the U.S.
    Even were the Congress to call off all open hostilities toward Cuba, the USG would always maintain spy and sponsor/promote counter-revolutionary activities as they have always done.
    Anyone who actually believes that, overall, the USG is a force for doing good in the world is a willfully blind person given the more than ample evidence to the contrary. .

  • What Americans want is what Rubio or some other gusano termed a Communist themepark. They were right in the sense that there are many features of Socialist societies that citizens of Capitalist societies find attractive. No ubiquitous advertising, low street crime and drugs, more human interaction and solidarity, simpler more leisurely life, no depressingly uniform, ugly mile after mile of fast food restaurants and box stores, and most importantly, a revolutionary ideology that says another world is possible. After 22 years in Cuba I know it is infinitely more complex than that, but that is what the foreigner sees. The problem is that when and if mass tourism begins, all that will change fast. Havana will quickly become dangerous, Yumas will stop commenting about how welcoming the Cubans are, and Cubans will return to the smoldering resentment that they had against Americans in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s.

  • I totally agree with you when you write, “Besides, Havana might get lucky and become the next ‘hot’ Spring Break location. Just imagine, thousands of drunken young Americans descending upon the Malecon. Good luck with that whole Socialist paradise thing once that happens.” Students descend on warm locales in droves to celebrate Spring Break between late February and early April. Places like Cancun, Panama City Beach, Jamaica, Miami, Dominican Republic, South Padre Island and a host of other “hot spots” become the play ground of drunken, out of control and, sometimes, belligerent students. I say good luck to the Cuban authorities who have deal with this debauchery.

  • Don’t sound so doomsday. Along with the 10,000 strong embassy staff will come free WiFi within a block of the embassy. There will likely be more neighborhood barbecues with real imported beef and no more toilet paper shortages in Havana. If you want all those mid-calf crew sock wearing tourists with pockets full of hard currency, you have to take the bad that comes with it. Besides, Havana might get lucky and become the next ‘hot’ Spring Break location. Just imagine, thousands of drunken young Americans descending upon the Malecon. Good luck with that whole Socialist paradise thing once that happens.

  • Cuba may have made the mistake of a lifetime , this is not an embassy this is a pit of Vipers
    I wonder where is JFK’s Peace Corps .
    This is the American disease insufficient , cancer imposed on Cuba , it is only A question off time before they would want to have 10,000 employees in is it so cold embassy , the same as in Pakistan and Iraq .

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