By Pilar Montes
HAVANA TIMES — In the early the morning of Monday, July 20, different foreign journalists gathered before the US Interests Section (USINT) in Havana, as on that day the building would become the US Embassy on the island.
A friend, Gaston Sariol Hernandez, a retired pilot and amateur painter, was witness to that congregation of people and told me he felt a certain degree of concern, owing to what marauding in the vicinity of the former USINT building entailed historically.
“To my surprise, the area had been taken up by camera people, journalists and photographers from important news outlets, people who, standing next to their tents and satellite dishes, had everything ready to send out the news to anywhere in the world.”
Though it was general knowledge that the ceremony surrounding the reopening of the Cuban embassy in Washington would take place in the morning, people expected that, at around the same time, the US flag would be raised at the diplomatic headquarters in Havana.
They didn’t know the US Secretary of State had postponed the ceremony in Havana till his visit on August 14. At the Anti-Imperialist Grandstand located in front of the diplomatic headquarters, a great many curious people, including Cuban Americans, tourists and locals of different ages had gathered. Some carried flags, others held signs and there were those who bore US flags on their garments.
A look of joy and hope was common to all of them.
“A gray-haired man,” Gaston went on, “who seemed to know me asked me if I was in the opposition. I replied that I wasn’t and he insisted in finding out whether someone had invited me. I said that no one had, that this was a historic event and that I’d earned the right to be there, as had most of the Cuban people.”
“At around 10:30 in the morning I left, feeling somewhat disappointed, as I would have liked to see the US flag fluttering in the breeze, a symbol I fought against for many years which I hope will now became a step towards friendship between the people of the United States and Cuba,” admitted Sariol.