A huge crowd -- comprised of both protesters and supporters -- gathered today (July 20, 2015) to witness the raising of the flag of Cuba over the Cuban Embassy, the first time it has flown there since the U.S. broke off diplomatic relations 54 years ago, shortly after Cuba became a communist country, according to the USA Today website.
As American and Cuban diplomats stood side by side, three Cuban guards marched out of the building, attached the flag to a recently-constructed flag pole and raised it above Washington's 16th Street, just two miles north of the White House.
The move signaled the latest -- and most visible -- step in the ongoing changes between the U.S. and Cuba, as a result of a rapprochement set off by Pope Francis. President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced in December that the two countries would end their five-decade diplomatic freeze and have been negotiating for months to reach today's opening of the Cuban Embassy.
While the U.S. Embassy in Havana also opened today, the U.S. State Department said it won't host a similar flag-raising ceremony in the Cuban capital until later this summer, when Secretary of State John Kerry plans to attend and oversee the event.