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Share Share 46 Views no discussions Share Sharing is caring! Tweet InternationalNewsPrintRegional US embassy in Havana marks ‘new chapter’ in Cuba ties by: Associated Press – July 1, 2015 President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. (Photo: AP)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the US and Cuba will reopen their embassies in Havana and Washington, heralding a “new chapter” in relations after a half-century of hostility.“We don’t have to be imprisoned by the past,” Obama said from White House Rose Garden. “Americans and Cubans alike are ready to move forward.”Cuban television broadcast Obama’s statement live, underscoring the new spirit.The embassy agreement marks the biggest tangible step toward normalizing relations since the surprise announcement in December that the US and Cuba were restarting diplomatic ties. The posts in Washington and Havana are scheduled to open July 20, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said.Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Cuba for the opening of the US Embassy.For Obama, ending the US freeze with Cuba is central to his foreign policy legacy as he nears the end of his presidency. Obama has long touted the value of direct engagement with global foes and has argued that the US economic embargo on the communist island just 90 miles south of Florida was ineffective.The president on Wednesday reiterated his call for Congress to lift the embargo, which he said has failed to bring political change in Cuba. However, he faces stiff resistance from Republicans, as well as some Democrats, who say he is prematurely rewarding a government that engages in serious human rights abuses.Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla, said in a statement that opening a US Embassy in Cuba “will do nothing to help the Cuban people and is just another trivial attempt for President Obama to go legacy shopping.”The president also will face strong opposition in Congress to spending any taxpayer dollars for building or refurbishing an embassy in Havana. Congress would have to approve any administration request to spend money on an embassy.The U.S. cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 after Fidel Castro’s revolution. The U.S. spent decades trying to either actively overthrow the Cuban government or isolate the island, including toughening the economic embargo first imposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.Since the late 1970s, the United States and Cuba have operated diplomatic missions called interests sections in each other’s capitals. The missions are technically under the protection of Switzerland, and do not enjoy the same status as embassies.Ahead of Obama’s remarks, the top US diplomat in Havana delivered a letter from the White House to Cuba about restoring embassies in the countries’ respective capitals. U.S. Interests Section chief Jeffrey DeLaurentis arrived at the Cuban Foreign Ministry in Havana on Wednesday morning to hand-deliver the message.In a highly unusual move, Cuban state television broadcast Obama’s remarks live with translation in Spanish.While the opening of embassies marks a major milestone in the thaw between the US and Cuba, significant issues remain as the countries look to normalize relations. Among them: talks on human rights; demands for compensation for confiscated American properties in Havana and damages to Cuba from the embargo; and possible cooperation on law enforcement, including the touchy topic of US fugitives sheltering in Havana.Sen Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the opening of embassies was part of the administration’s “common sense approach to Cuba.” However, he called for Cuba to recognize that it is out of step with the international community on human rights.“Arrests and detentions of dissidents must cease and genuine political pluralism is long overdue,” Cardin said in a statement.Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro met in April during a regional summit, marking the first time US and Cuban leaders have met in person since 1958.For Obama, the embassy announcements come amid what the White House sees as one of the strongest stretches of his second term. He scored major legislative and legal victories last week, with Congress giving him fast-track authority for an Asia-Pacific free trade deal and the Supreme Court upholding a key provision of his health care law.The court also ruled in favor of gay marriage nationwide, an outcome Obama supported.
Joni Hubred Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) Reported by GIS Coordinator Matt Malone (City of Farmington Hills)The City of Farmington Hills recently received a prestigious award honoring GIS (Geographic Information System) projects that help make computer mapping information accessible and easy to understand.GIS Coordinator Matt Malone accepted the 2020 “GIS for Everyone” Award, which was presented virtually by IMAGIN (Improving Michigan’s Access to Geographic Information Networks), the professional association for Michigan’s GIS community. IMAGIN’s annual conference was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Under Malone’s leadership, GIS apps have been created for computers and mobile devices, including maps of land parcels, election precincts, and zoning districts.Recent GIS additions include story maps showcasing resources at city parks; real-time snow plowing progress maps; a public tax parcel viewer showing selected properties with a three-year assessed value chart; and a historic district viewer featuring video tours of significant structures.Malone has served as GIS Coordinator since 2004, having previously worked for Grand Blanc Charter Township and University of Michigan-Flint. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography and Earth Science from Western Michigan University, and a master’s degree in Resource Development from Michigan State University. He has served on the IMAGIN Board of Directors and was honored as the IMAGIN Volunteer of the Year in 2008.