Cuban President Raul Castro indicated yesterday that the United States and Cuba would exchange ambassadors amid the normalization of ties between the countries sometime after May 29th. On that day, the official 45-day window given to Congress to thwart President Barack Obama’s plans to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terror closes and relations resume for the first time since 1961.
Whether intended or not, the date is a historians’ dream as May 29th plays the role of “on this date in history” for a few important U.S.-Cuban history milestones (it also just so happens to be my birthday).
Here’s a rundown in chronological order:
1917 – John F. Kennedy was born. As president, he would oversee the Cuban missile crisis, later depicted in the spectacular movie Thirteen Days.
1934 – U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, along with his undersecretary of state and the Cuban ambassador to the U.S., Manual Marquez Sterling (who served a six hour stint as president of Cuba in January of that year), signed a Treaty of Relations. The first such treaty was signed in 1903 and this one was meant to amend some of the more disliked provisions (interestingly enough, one provision that remained intact was the right of the United States to utilize the naval base at Guantanamo Bay…how’s that for still being relevant?!).
1962 – Sharif Rashidov, at the behest of the Soviet Union, lands in Cuba and proceeds to a meeting with brothers Fidel (then president) and Raul (now president) Castro to discuss how the Soviets could assist Cuba defend a United States invasion with the help of Russian missiles on the island. (Wonder if they knew JFK was celebrating his 45th birthday that very day).
1963 – In another JFK related May 29th coincidence, Lee Harvey Oswald, who would go on to assassinate the president in November 1963, received a letter from the Fair Play for Cuba Committee with information on how to start a chapter in New Orleans which Oswald eventually did.
2015 – TBD.