On August 14, the U.S. government reopened its embassy in Havana, Cuba, more than fifty years after it was shut down. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived there for this monumental occasion and gave a poignant speech both in English and Spanish: “The U.S. will continue to champion the rights of the Cuban people.”
This tremendous moment that included a ceremonious raising of the U.S. flag came with some backlash. Cuban dissidents weren't invited to the embassy ceremony noting that: “Inviting dissidents would risk a boycott by Cuban officials including those who negotiated with the U.S. after Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro declared detente on Dec. 17. Though White House officials noted that Kerry would meet with “prominent activists” and “some dissidents” later in the day.
As you can imagine, Cuban-American Florida Senator Marco Rubio voiced his opposition saying, "As a symbol of just how backward this policy shift has turned out to be, no Cuban dissidents have been invited to today's official flag-raising ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Havana," Rubio said. "Cuba's dissidents have fought for decades for the very Democratic principles President Obama claims to be advancing through these concessions. Their exclusion from this event has ensured it will be little more than a propaganda rally for the Castro regime." Rubio wasn't alone. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey (and son of Cuban immigrants) referred to the ceremony as "shameful" for barring Cuban dissidents.
Even so, the majority of U.S. citizens and Latin Americans disagree with Rubio seeing as a new PEW survey found that 73 percent of Americans approve of the new policy reforms with Cuba, as well as 77 percent of five Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Venezuela). However you feel about the ins and outs of today's historic ceremony, at the end of the day what's done is done and as the Cuba Now executive director Ric Herrero said "... our two countries are finally poised to cooperate on mutually beneficial issues and respectfully address long-standing differences on matters such as human rights, migration and legal claims."