This Will Probably Be The New US Embassy In Cuba

Simon Jønler Contributor
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The seven-story office building that houses the U.S. Interests Section on Havana’s waterfront is likely to become the U.S.’s new embassy in Cuba, according to White House aides cited by CNN.

President Barack Obama officially announced Wednesday that the U.S. and Cuba are re-opening embassies in each country. According to the State Department, simply raising the flags reciprocally at the embassies in each country would formally finalize the “normalization” of relationships between the two nations.


(Photo: Department of State)

The morose-looking rectangle is currently located in Havana’s Anti-imperialist Park and previously served as the United States Embassy to Cuba until the diplomatic ties were severed on Jan. 3, 1961. However, the Interests Section currently serves as the de facto American embassy. The Interest Section’s official government website confirms that “the functions of USINT are similar to those of any U.S. government presence abroad” and even lists the head of the mission as Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis [emphasis added].


(Photo: Department of State)

The U.S. Interests Section is currently complimented by the José Martí Anti-Imperialist Platform; an epitaph to the victims of uprisings against foreign force, consisting of 148 big black flags with a single white star at the centre.


(Photo: “Tribuna José Martí” by Angelo Lucia/Own Work/Creative Commmons)

The armada of flags now obscuring the view of the former embassy was conceived as a stratagem in the propaganda war between the State Department and Cuban authorities. From the late 1990s to 2009, the U.S. State Department and Cuban authorities communicated their differences by plastering iconoclastic statements on billboards visible to the other side.

Cuban billboards carrying anti-imperialist slogans, as well as accusations of murder and fascism, were met with an electronic billboard displaying various provocative statements such as “Is Cuba a free country?,” an annual Christmas display complete with Santa, and even fragments from the “I Have a Dream” speech on Martin Luther King Day in 2004.

A Washington Post Article designated the “five foot tall” electronic bill board blasting messages from the top windows of the Interest Section building as the cause of the Cuban authorities’ decision to raise the 148-flags on Plaza de la Dignidad. The flags were intended to block the view of the American billboard from the heavy trafficked area nearby.

The little-appreciated Cuban Billboard Crisis was eventually averted after much rudeness when the State Department elected to turn off their electronic billboard in June 2009, followed by the subsequent removal of Cuban billboards later the same month.

So far no official announcements have addressed whether the Bauhaus-monstrosity will remain as a reminder of how perfectly ugly war can be, but the Cuban authorities have recently updated their vexillological display, replacing the obscuring dark curtains with colorful Cuban flags.