Havana, Aug 14 (EFE).- Secretary of State John Kerry presided over a flag-raising ceremony here Friday at the U.S. Embassy in , a historic event that comes 54 years after the two countries severed full diplomatic relations amid the Cold War.
Three young raised the flag after receiving it from the three military men – Larry Morris, Mike East and Jim Tracey – who had lowered it in 1961.
“This is a day for pushing aside old barriers and exploring new possibilities,” Kerry said in English in a speech before the flag was raised.
He then addressed those in attendance in Spanish, saying there is nothing to fear because both countries will experience numerous benefits by allowing greater contact among each other’s citizens more frequent visits and exchanges of ideas.
The United States’ top diplomat arrived in Havana at 9:00 a.m. on board a State Department plane.
Kerry, wearing a navy blue suit, was holding a cane as he got off the aircraft because he is still recovering from a broken leg sustained in bicycle accident in late May in Geneva.
He was received by the new charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, and Cuban Foreign Ministry officials.
Kerry’s arrival for the formal reopening of the embassy, which began operating on July 20 when diplomatic relations were officially restored, became the first U.S. secretary of state to set foot on Cuban soil in 70 years.
Kerry is scheduled to spend just 10 hours in Havana, during which time he is to meet with Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the most senior Catholic clergyman on the Communist-ruled island, and with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.
He also will hold a joint press conference with Rodriguez.
The flag-raising ceremony at the embassy, located on Havana’s waterfront Malecon boulevard, was the first of two scheduled for Friday.
Invitees from both countries and a U.S. delegation made up of some 20 officials and lawmakers attended the initial event, which did not include any Cuban dissidents.
Democracy activists on the island, however, are to attend a later private ceremony.
Kerry, who is scheduled to return to Washington on Friday night, has planned an “open, free” walk in Old Havana during his stay to get an impression of everyday life in .