WASHINGTON – Cuban diplomats gathered Wednesday for the installation of a flagpole outside the office that will become the island nation’s embassy in Washington as part of the process of bilateral normalization initiated last December.
A score of officials, led by the chief of the Cuban Interests Section, Jose Cabañas, sang Cuba’s national anthem and applauded as workers erected the pole outside the office in Columbia Heights, about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from the White House.
Journalists and onlookers gathered on the strip of grass separating the future embassy from the street.
The pole will remain without a flag until the interests section formally becomes an embassy.
Still in place is the sign reading “Embassy of Switzerland, Cuban Interests Section,” reflecting the mission’s official status as a dependency of the Swiss Embassy.
The raising of the flagpole at the interests section could be a sign that the renewal of diplomatic relations – severed in 1961 – is getting closer.
At the conclusion of the most recent round of normalization talks late last month, the chief U.S. negotiator, Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, said the remaining issues could be resolved by the respective interests sections in Washington and Havana without the need for another high-level meeting.
Analysts have interpreted Jacobson’s comments, along with the May 29 removal of Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, as clues that the re-opening of embassies is imminent.