Relations between Cuba and the United States remain tenuous, but since Fidel Castro stepped down from official leadership of the Cuban state and "Barack Obama became "president of the United States, they have improved.
In April 2009, Obama, who had received nearly half of the "Cuban-American vote in the "2008 presidential election, began implementing a less strict policy towards Cuba. Obama stated that he was open to dialogue with Cuba, but that he would only lift the trade embargo if Cuba underwent political change. In March 2009, Obama signed into law a congressional spending bill which eased some economic sanctions on Cuba and eased travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans (defined as persons with a relative "who is no more than three generations removed from that person") traveling to Cuba. The April executive decision further removed time limits on Cuban-American travel to the island. Another restriction loosened in April 2009 was in the realm of "telecommunications, which would allow quicker and easier access to the internet for Cuba. The loosening of restrictions is likely to help nonprofits and scientists from both countries who work together on issues of mutual concern, such as destruction of shared biodiversity and diseases that affect both populations. At the 2009 "5th Summit of the Americas, President Obama signaled the opening of a new beginning with Cuba.
Obama's overtures were reciprocated, to some degree, by new Cuban President "Raúl Castro. On 27 July 2012, Raúl Castro said that the "Government of Cuba is willing to hold talks with the "United States government to "discuss anything". On 10 December 2013, at a "state memorial service for Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and Raúl Castro shook hands, with Castro saying in English: "Mr. President, I am Castro." Though both sides played down the handshake (much like the Clinton handshake of 2000), an adviser to Obama said that Obama wanted to improve relations with Cuba, yet had concerns about human rights on the island.
Beginning in 2013, Cuban and U.S. officials held secret talks brokered in part by "Pope Francis and hosted in "Canada and "Vatican City to start the process of restoring diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States. On 17 December 2014, the framework of an agreement to normalize relations and eventually end the longstanding embargo was announced by Castro in Cuba and Obama in the United States. Cuba and the United States pledged to start official negotiations with the aim of reopening their respective embassies in Havana and Washington. As part of the agreement, aid worker "Alan Gross and an unnamed Cuban national working as a U.S intelligence asset were released by the Cuban government, which also promised to free an unspecified number of Cuban nationals from a list of political prisoners earlier submitted by the United States. For its part, the U.S. government released the last three remaining members of the "Cuban Five. Reaction to this change in policy within the "Cuban-American community was mixed, and Cuban-American senators "Bob Menendez ("D-"NJ), "Marco Rubio ("R-"FL), and "Ted Cruz ("R-"TX) all condemned the Obama administration's change in policy. However, opinion polls indicated the thaw in relations was broadly popular with the American public.
High-level diplomats from Cuba and the United States met in "Havana in January 2015. While the talks did not produce a significant breakthrough, both sides described them as "productive", and Cuban Foreign Ministry official Josefina Vidal said further talks would be scheduled.
Under new rules implemented by the Obama administration, restrictions on travel by Americans to Cuba are significantly relaxed as of 16 January 2015, and the limited import of items like "Cuban cigars and "rum to the United States is allowed, as is the export of American computer and telecommunications technology to Cuba.
On 14 April 2015, the Obama administration announced that Cuba would be removed from the United States ""Terrorist Sponsor" list. The House and Senate had 45 days from 14 April 2015 to review and possibly block this action, but this did not occur, and on 29 May 2015, the 45 days lapsed, therefore officially removing Cuba from the United States' list of state sponsors of terrorism. This move by President Obama further departs the United States from the Cold War conflict and its strain on Cuba–United States relations. On 1 July 2015, President Barack Obama announced that formal diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States would resume, and embassies would be opened in Washington and Havana. Relations between Cuba and the United States were formally re-established on 20 July 2015, with the opening of the "Cuban embassy in Washington and the "U.S. embassy in Havana. Barack Obama visited Cuba for three days in March 2016. In August 2016, "JetBlue Airways Flight 387 landed in Santa Clara, becoming the first direct commercial flight to travel between the two countries since 1962. On November 28, 2016, the first normally scheduled commercial flight after more than 50 years landed in Havana from Miami on an American Airlines jet.
With the "election of "Republican businessman "Donald Trump as U.S. president, the state of relations between the United States and Cuba are unclear as of January 2017. While a candidate for the presidency, Trump criticized aspects of the Cuban Thaw, suggesting he could break off relations with Cuba unless he can negotiate "a good agreement".
Under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Enhancement Act of 2000, exports from the United States to Cuba in the industries of food and medical products are permitted with the proper licensing and permissions from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the United States Department of the Treasury.
The Obama administration eased specific travel and other restrictions on Cuba in January 2011. A delegation from the United States Congress called on Cuban president Raúl Castro on 24 February 2012 to discuss bilateral relations. The Congress delegation included "Patrick Leahy, Democratic Senator from the state of Vermont and chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and "Richard Shelby, Republican Senator from the state of Alabama and ranking member of the Committee of Banking, Housing and Urban Matters; they went to Cuba as part of a delegation of Senators and Representatives of the Congress of United States.
Travel and import restrictions imposed by the United States were further relaxed by executive action in January 2015 as part of the "Cuban Thaw.
The U.S. continues to operate "a naval base at "Guantánamo Bay under a 1903 lease agreement "for the time required for the purposes of coaling and naval stations". The U.S. issues a check to Cuba annually for its lease, but since the revolution, Cuba has cashed only one payment. The Cuban government opposes the treaty, arguing["citation needed] that it violates article 52 of the 1969 "Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, titled "Coercion of a State by the threat or use of force". However, Article 4, titled "Non-retroactivity of the present Convention" of the same document states that Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties shall not be retroactively applied to any treaties made before itself.
The leasing of land like the Guantánamo Bay tract was one of the requirements of the "Platt Amendment, conditions for the withdrawal of United States troops remaining in Cuba following the "Spanish–American War.
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- Secret History of U.S.-Cuba Ties Reveals Henry Kissinger Plan to Bomb Havana for Fighting Apartheid. "Democracy Now! 2 October 2014.