Brief Diplomatic History

The United States established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba in 1902, opening the first U.S. Embassy in Havana in 1923. In 1953, the Embassy was moved to the building it currently occupies. The Embassy was closed in 1961 when the United States severed diplomatic relations with Cuba. In 1977, during President Carter’s administration, the United States and Cuba signed an agreement establishing the U.S. Interests Section in Havana and the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC. Both diplomatic missions operated under the protection of the Embassy of Switzerland.

Under President Obama, diplomatic relations between the two countries were officially resumed on July 20, 2015. John Kerry became the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Cuba in 70 years when he came to Havana for the flag-raising ceremony at the newly reopened U.S. Embassy on August 14, 2015. President Obama visited Cuba March 21-22, 2016, the first visit of a sitting U.S. President since President Calvin Coolidge had visited in 1928. As part of the rapprochement under the Obama administration, commercial flights and cruise ship travel between the United States and Cuba resumed, as well as direct mail delivery. Several agreements were also signed between the United States and Cuba to collaborate on various topics, including health, environment, drug and human trafficking, and telecommunications.

In June 2017, President Trump reversed some of the previous policy changes.

In May 2022 President Biden announced a new Cuba policy to promote accountability for the Cuban government’s human rights abuses while expanding support for the Cuban people. These policies center on empowering the Cuban people to determine their own future, supporting the growth of private entrepreneurship, and allowing families to reconnect with one another, all while continuing to deny resources to the Cuban military.


The Biden-Harris policies provide Cubans with additional tools to pursue a life free from Cuban government oppression and to seek greater economic opportunities. The measures include authorizing scheduled and chartered flight to locations beyond Havana, reinstating group people-to-people travel to strengthen family ties and educational connections, supporting independent Cuban entrepreneurs, and expanding and facilitating remittances to encourage support for the Cuban people while minimizing benefits to those who perpetrate human rights abuses.