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tv   The Rundown With Jose Diaz- Balart  MSNBC  August 14, 2015 6:00am-8:01am PDT

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down, right? >> yes. >> with a southern girl. he wants a southern girl. >> i want a southern girl. >> i'm on it. >> oh, my god. all right, if it's way too early, it's "morning joe." as always, thank you for your patience and thanks so much. >> chuck todd is next, right? oh, no. he's not next. >> for anybody who helped on the show putting together this, stick around, we have "the rundown" starting right now. good morning. yp jose diaz-balart. first on "the rundown" this morning, an historic day unfolding about 90 miles from the tip of florida, but the impact is felt here in south florida and around the world. less than an hour from now, the american flag will be raised over the u.s. embassy in cuba for the first time since 1961. among those who will be there to witness it, secretary of state john kerry. he just arrived moments ago. members of congress and three
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marines who took down the flag more than five decades ago. >> never thought i would be going back, but i welcome the chance. >> i'm going to love seeing that flag go back up. >> yeah, i think about it every night now. seeing the flag go back up. it means a lot. >> the ceremonial reopening of the u.s. embassy in one of the world's few remaining communist dictatorships does not come without controversy. cuban dissidents, pro-democracy who forms america's primary link to 50 years are not invited to the flag raising. while a hand 46 picked group will meet with secretary kerry today, it will be behind closed doors. they say it will give the u.s. a chance to reach out to all cubans. >> we want to be able to engage
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with, again, cubans across the aisle and in the government, on the street, in civil society, wherever we can. >> i want to bring in two of my colleagues who are in havana this morning, lester holt and nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell. what's your impression of how -- good morning -- how the cuban people are dealing and reacting to what's going to happen there today, no doubt a historic event? >> i have only been here a few hours so i don't have a complete accurate read. there's a sizable crowd here around the embassy grounds right now. a smattering of americans but a lot of cubans who have come here, curious to watch this moment. everything being staged. just before dawn, they put up the signage on the building, the embassy of the united states of america. and of course, the flag to be raised here. so i think everyone recognizes it's a significant moment in relati relations. as i noted earlier, it's not the
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total burying of a hatchet. there's still a lot of major issues between the time-out countries but it's billed as an opening. they have the platform, the apparatus to speak to one another. >> andrea, you have been following and covering this story from the beginning almost. what was the deciding factor in how thing s got to where they ae today? >> well, fascinating backstory. i want to point out, because you have been looking at pictures of john kerry. he's off the crutches for this trip, at least so far today. you can see him using a cane, and it was teddy kennedy's cane. obviously, from the kennedy family, offered to him. so such a great symbol, symbolic gesture. as we all know, the history of the kennedy family, john f. kennedy, and that's when relations were broken back in 1961. more symbolism, is john kerry bringing with him three marines, the former marines who lowered the flag in 1961. and they will hand the flag in
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the ceremony within the next hour or so, handing the flag to the marines now on duty at the newly opened embassy to raise the stars and stripes. there's a lot of symbolism. as you point out, correctly, they have not, and kerry will acknowledge this in the speech, we're understanding, that they have not buried all of the past disputes. they haven't healed the wounds. there's a lot of work to be done. the united states is not going to interfere in cuba's decisions as to whether it turns into a democracy. that is a big step from where cuba is today. and the fact that the dissidents have not been invited. the "washington post" editorialized today saying the fact there's not enough room here is a lame excuse, the words of the "washington post" editorial page. there's going to be a lot of criticism. kerry is going to deflect it in his speech, but he's going to have to answer questions about it. he did say to you he's going to go out to old havana restored
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with u.n. money because of the trade embargo. and he's going to walk about and try to meet people, whether he can actually engage with people given all the security and the celebrity, it remains to be seen. we should also point out, fidel castro turned 89 yesterday. still photos today of him withava morales and others from the region, his close friends, and he's still invoking the past, not the future. we, by the way, talked to young people, our producers have been on the ground here. and the millennials are really looking forward to change. they want to see a difference in cross-strait visits. they want to see better careers for them with better economic engagement with the mainland, with the u.s. >> and of course, that's not even discussing the issue of what their politics and, you know, the lack of freedom that exists there that a lot of people want to see changes there. lester, either way you cut this,
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it's pretty extraordinary to see you and andrea and others in a place that for 55 years has been quite clearly an enemy of the united states of america, and yet today, that flag, the american flag, is going to be raised just a couple yards from where you all are standing. >> well, certainly for people of my age, i call myself a child of the cold war. it's absolutely significant. andrea has been here. this is my first time here. certainly checking one off my journalistic bucket list, but also personally. those of us who remember the berlin wall falling and now this. and the sweeping changes. and we were commenting earlier, what a year it's been. the same year that this overture was made, this opening, we watches the historic nuclear agreement with iran. that negotiation. so we're witnessing so much in such a short amount of time. >> and if i could point out, jose, kerry is going to make reference to the fact that he was in hanoi only last week.
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he fought in the vietnam war, of course. memorably was a protester afterwards against the war. but the fact is, as he has repeatedly said, we have diplomat ic relations with almot 200 countries around the world. many of them communist or totalitarian. the fact we have diplomatic relations with cuba now, full diplomatic relations does not mean we have full economic relations certainly. the toughest embargo in the world is on this country, not north korea, this country. not on iran, even. so this is a step, but we don't have just diplomatic relations with friends and allies. and he's hoping there could be more people to people and government to government relationships. >> andrea mitchell and lester holt, thank you both for being with me this morning. i so appreciate your time. thank you. >> you bet. i want to bring in one of the most fovocal critics of the
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deal, ileana ros lehtinen. >> i didn't get my invitation to go to cuba. it must have been lost in the mail. >> you called kerry's trip part of a, quote, global capitulation tour. what should the u.s. be doing differently? why not start something, as andrea was saying, that for 56 years has had an embargo in place and that same dictatorship continues even with the embargo. why not try something new? >> because we should tell the castro brothers, why don't you try something new? try democracy, try human rights. try freedom of the press. you know, i think it's shameful that the american flag that is the most beautiful flag in the world, it stands for freedom and democracy and human rights, and it's going to be hoisted in a ceremony where not a single cuban dissident has been invited. we have actually disinvited all of the dissidents, all of the
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opposition leaders and the administration uses one of two lame excuses. first they say, oh, because this is government to government. or else they say, oh, the room is just too small. they're invited to this massive eventilator in the afternoon, but that is not the same as, and most of them have turned that invitation down because they know it's a second-class invitation. we talk about how we're going to -- things are going to change for cuba. remember, the misery that is in place in cuba is not because of the u.s. embargo at all. there's no embargo on food and the cuban people are hungry. there's no embargo on medicine, and the cuban people lack medicine and good health care. it's because of the cuban regime that's there, and president obama once said, we will extend a helping hand once you unclench your fist. now, we're not even asking for anything in return. >> congress pm womwoman, i wanty for you what marco rubio said
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just this morning about today's events. >> as a symbol of just how backward this policy shift has turned out to be, not a single cuban dissident has been invited to today's official flag raising ceremony. at the new u.s. embassy in havana. cuban dissidents have fought for decades for the very democratic principles president obama claims to be advancing through these concessions. their exclusion from this event has insured it will be little more than a propaganda rally for the castro regime. >> now, congresswoman, the secretary told me, secretary kerry, that of course, and you just referenced it, there will be an opportunity to meet with some dissidents behind closed doors afterwards. let me, if i could, deal with the bigger picture, which is this. the united states has diplomatic relations with china, not exactly the poster child for democracy. it has relationships with vietnam, where more than 50,000
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americans lost their lives. it has diplomatic relations with countries that are never going to get the seal of approval of being good democracies, and yet, why and why only should the united states not have relations with cuba? >> well, look, i am not here to apologize for china or vietnam. i vote against them each and every time in the united states congress. i think that's the wrong move. however, one could make the case, jose, that the economy in china is open, that the american businesses are doing business in cuba. it is not the embargo that has prevented u.s. businesses from doing business in cuba. cuba doesn't want u.s. businesses there. if you were to open up your business, you know what you would have to do? you would have to go through the regime, and they would actually own the land, own the property. they would hire the workers. you pay the regime, the regime
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paid the worker in undervalued pesos. it's a totally different system. they don't even have economic freedom in cuba. our flag stands for a lot more than just the bottom line and cash. i know a lot of american businesses are thinking, wow, i'm going to go there and open up a new market. remember, castro owns everybody a lot of money, and the cuban people will wake up on saturday and say, what is different? nada. >> congresswoman, thank you very much for being with me. >> thank you. >> i appreciate your time. >> our coverage of the flag raising ceremony over the u.s. embassy in cuba will continue in a couple minute. for now, i'm going to send it back to frances rivera in new york for some of today's other top stories. >> always good to see you. and now we're also watching this at this hour. presidential candidates from both parties are descending on iowa at the state fair. you're looking at live pictures of jeb bush in iowa at this moment talking to reporters as he works his way through the
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crowd. they're talking about how important iowa is. the state fair is an election season tradition that can be a launching pad to victory or an opportunity for embarrassing gaffes. the pressure is on for jeb bush and also hillary clinton with new speculation that former vice president al gore might be considering entering the race. this comes amid a report from the associated press on the content of the two e-mails from clinton's private server that an inspector general has deemed top secret. the state department has yet to determine if it agrees with the intelligence community's assessment. they were classified at the time they were sent. joining me now from washington is nbc news white house correspondent kristen welker. always good to see you. first, talk a little bit about what's reportedly in the e-mails, specifically when it comes to talk about drones. >> great to see you. the a.p. is reporting two of the e-mails on hillary clinton's private server include a discussion of a news article detailing a u.s. drone operation and a separate conversation that
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could point back to highly classified material in an improper manner. now the report states that clinton did not send those e-mails herself and clinton has consistently said she never knowingly transmitted classified information. still, it's one more reason the democratic race seems to be shaking up. with ongoing questions about hillary clinton's private e-mail, new reports this morning that former vice president al gore could be informally considering getting back into the game. buzz feed reporting that gore, who lost to george w. bush in 2000, is having conversations with supporters to see if there's a path financially and politically, but a high-level democratic source tells nbc news there's nothing substantive happening. however, the current vice president seems to be giving it some serious thought. according to two democratic sources, vice president biden, who is vacationing in south carolina, has started to reach out to close friends and allies to discuss a possible run,
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including what it would take to start this late. still, all of the quiet conversations aside, hillary clinton's e-mail issue has made some democrats jittery. democrat martin o'malley already in iowa for the state fair, telling kelly o'donnell -- >> do you think the clinton e-mail issue provides an opening? >> i think that people are hungry for an alternative. >> meanwhile, the republicans wasted no time capitalizing on speculation the democratic field could get bigger. >> there's a lot of disarray in the democratic party. i'm sure that people like joe biden and al gore are seriously considering it. >> for her part, clinton will try to turn the page in iowa this weekend and she'll have plenty of company with most candidates expected to turn out to court key voters and perhaps enjoy some of those signature treats. now, the clinton campaign says they have no way of confirming if that a.p. report is accurate, but they stress the part of the report that says clinton did not transmit the sensitive information herself.
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meanwhile, just to put that speculation about al gore into a little bit of context, his name has been floated as a possible candidate in every contested democratic primary since he lost back in 2000. >> watching al gore and also the vice president as well. kristen welker, thank you very much for us there in washington, d.c. we're just getting started on this very busy friday edition of "the rundown," taking a live look right now at havana, cuba, on this historic day at this hour, the american flag will be raises over the u.s. embassy over the crowds there are continuing to gather. jose will join us shortly and we'll have complete coverage throughout the show, including a report from havana. >> also, developing political news at home. jeb bush is at the iowa state fair today, a state where he is not fairing well in the polls. he'll speak there next hour. we'll bring you a live report straight ahead. >> plus, the united states believes isis is employing chemical weapons in iraq. we'll have the latest on this potentially startling escalation
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welcome back to "the rundown" on this historic day between the united states and cuba. but not without controversy. after 54 years, the u.s. flag will soon be raised at the american embassy in havana with secretary of state john kerry in attendance. gene ramirez with our affiliate is live outside the u.s. embassy in havana. good morning. >> good morning to you, jose. how are you doing? >> good. you have been talking with people who traveled from the united states to be in cuba this morning. what are they telling you? why have they decided to come? >> sure, there was one family that i met down in tampa, florida, where i flew from. they actually planned their trip four months ago.
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they were curious about cuba, as so many people in the states are right now. the timing just happened to be perfect. they were really excited because they were bringing their yun teenage son on the trip. he's about to start the school year, but the mom said what a learning experience to experience history in havana. i have also talked to people in the crowd who are from cuba who are excited, who are optimistic, but also have reservations. >> gene, you speak spanish. you can travel and talk to people. what do you think the expectations are infor the cuban people? is this step, which is no doubt historic, how do they see this step? what do they want to see? >> sure. well, ultimately, they want to see, people who have spoken to, the embargo coming to an end. they want more economic opportunities for themselves, for their children. some are still a little cautious, they have a little reservation when it comes to that, especially the young millennials i talked to, walking where lester was to my live
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location right now next to the u.s. embassy. some of these young people think they could still have better opportunities if they were to leave cuba and head to the u.s. something as simple as carrying an american flag they're doing without fear, but i interviewed a gentleman who told me he was okay with the american flag right now. tomorrow, not so much. as i was walking away from the interview, he gave me his government i.d. number. he said please check back on me in a couple days to make sure i'm okay. >> what was he fearing? >> carrying an american flag in cuba not long ago was a punishment offense. you could go to jail. they didn't give you an exact amount of time. he said one day they take you to jail for an american flag. the next day, it could be a longer term. i had a cab driver who was waving one from his rear-view mirror. he also had an american themed air freshener hanging there as well. i asked about it and he told me
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the same thing. long ago, you could go to jail. you can't buy them in cuba so the people who have american flags are getting them through friends in the united states. i heard one gentleman got it from a friend in colombia. they're protected today because the world's media is here, but there is concern they're not going to have these freedoms they're enjoying while the u.s. and world's eyes are on havana. >> gene ramirez, thank you very much for your time. frances rivera picks up things after the break from new york. i'll be anchoring telemundo's coverage of the u.s. flag raising ceremony in the embassy in havana. i'll rejoin the broadcast after the ceremony concludes. up next, frances will have other stories we're following today, including the devastation in china following the twin explosions. a glimmer of hope. we'll explain next on "the rundown." from bank of america to buy a new gym bag. before earning 1% cash back everywhere, every time
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welcome back to "the rundown." about 20 minutes from now, history will be made. this salive look from havana, cuba, as we're awaiting the ceremonial reopening of the u.s. embassy there in cuba for the first time in 54 years. the united states flag, american flag, will fly there over the u.s. embassy in cuba. when that happens, of course, we will bring you there live. now, to a story of survival amid the utter devastation and chaos after massive explosions rocked a chinese warehouse killing at least 50 people. search and rescue teams saved a firefighter who was trapped in the rubble for more than 31 hours. nbc's ian williams brings us the latest. >> at least some encouraging news from here this morning. a nene-year-old firefighter pulled out alive. now, nobody expected that. at the same time, biochemical specialists have now arrived. officials admitting they don't really know precisely what deadly toxins they're dealing with. the fire raged on this morning,
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thick black smoke billowing into the sky. hundreds of firefighters are battling the inforno. today, pulling out alive one of their colleagues treated in a nearby hospital. more than 20 firefighters died in the blast, and 13 are still missing. officials say firefighters themselves may have triggered the blasts by hosing water on an initial fire in a warehouse containing the volatile chemical calcium carbide. that triggered the first blast which moments later sparked the second bigger explosion. as other chemicals caught fire. captured in this cell phone video, shot by american dan van duran. he continued to film until it became too terrifying. >> let's go! let's go down! >> he told me he thought they were going to die. >> it was just monumental. i thought it was a nuclear bomb going off in my face, what it looked like. >> officials have tried to reassure nervous residents pollution levels are normal while admitting they don't
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really know what toxins are in the air. they have told people to move out of apartment blocks near the blast site and into shelters. local hospitals have been overwhelmed. the police have now cordoned off the blast area which now res resembles a post aapocalyptic wasteland. a frozen mark marking the time the city won't ever forget. this is a city in shock after the explosion and also in fear as residents look at the fire, the smoke, and in spite of official attempts at reassurance, wonder what deadly toxins they're breathing. >> ian, thank you very much. meanwhile, developing on the 2016 campaign trail right now, jeb bush is touring the iowa state fair right now ahead of his soapbox speech in the next hour. this is jeb bush just moments ago talking to reporters as he's made his way through the crowd. political correspondent kasie hunt was right there with him, and kasie, jeb bush could really use this opportunity to turn
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things around for him. >> well, frances, this is jeb bush's essentially, he told me, first trip to the iowa state fair. he says he may have been here wait back in 1980 when his father was first campaigning for president. i asked him what was his favorite food here? he said ask him again at the end of the day, although he's looking for the snickers. he talked to reporters a little bit here ahead of his soapbox speech. if you look at many of the polls here in iowa, you have donald trump sitting there, ben carson sitting there. i asked him whether or not he was enough of an outsider to appeal to iowa voters. polls suggest voters are looking for an outsider. are you a plausible outsider? >> i haven't been in washington, d.c. i wouldn't know how to drive, i could barely get from dulles to senator grassley's officer. never lived there, never been -- been a reform minded governor. i'll tell that story. there's a yerning. i got that, the family thing.
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that's true. i am blessed with a great family. but my record of success is something that people yearn for in washington, d.c. we have had gridlock in washington. here are two really talented public servants that would love to begin to forge solutions. even across the aisle. senator grassley has been doing this for a long while, and this idea that a president tears down his opponents, demonized them, says if you're against the iran deal, you're part of the death to america, you're in cohoots with the death to america crowd. give me a break. this is not how we're going to solve our problems. i haven't been contaminated by that culture that always tries to demonize and divide. i'm fraught florida. we solve problems there. >> so tip to jeb bush, if he's wanting to go to grassley's office, he'll want to fly from reagan international. there's a classic car fest going
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on at the state fair. you never know when something is going to drive through the shot. the other thing i would say, too, about jeb bush. he arrived here in an suv, walked across the fair. i asked him whether or not arriving in a helicopter as donald trump plans to do is the right way to go. he said he's glad he did it his way. >> and by the way, trying to get jeb bush to try the fried oreos. i know you and i had that in common as far as state far food. >> my favorite. >> thank you very much. want to bring in shira center, political editor for the boston globe. let's start with this. as we said, jeb bush going to take the soapbox in the next hour. this could help catapult him and also could be a pothole he could step in especially with crowds and the uncertainty ofheckled. whou is he going to stand up? >> jeb bush does have a challenge in iowa because it is not the strongest state for him.
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i mean, he's put some effort into south carolina, more effort into new hampshire, but iowa, as he basically said, is not a state where he's putting a lot of resources into. it's very interesting to see how the crowd reacts. also, let's look at his past, most recent performances such as on the debate steak. he's been a little shaky, stumbled a little bit. i would not be surprised to see he's a lilt nervous. let's not forget the famous phrase from mitt romney, corporations are people, too. that was on the des moines register soapbox. he might have one of those moments if he's not careful. >> one of those potholes he may be stepping into. now to donald trump who is attending the fair but not speaking on the soapbox. some people say considering everything that has been said about mexico and the president saying this week that his plan for mexico to pay for the border wall reflects, quote, enormous ignorance, basically saying no way are we going to pay for
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that. wouldn't he take that opportunity to address that? >> no, it's donald trump. he plays by his own rules. he probably doesn't feel the need to address it unless someone asks him directly in an interview. i'll be interested to see how donald trump reacts to the fair. people are going to be in crowds five deep, kind of like we saw with sarah palin when she fi visited. is it the kind of place where any candidate is going to get into a serious policy battle? i highly doubt it, unless maybe it's about agriculture. >> one thing is for sure, he's not going to introduce defleopard. marco rubio slammed president obama's outreach to cuba and iran, saying it threatens america's moral standing around the world. is this an argument some democrats are going to get behind as well and pave the way to be a key issue for 2016?
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>> the cuba issue is so fascinating because sometimes it does transcend party politics. you see many of the republican candidates, most of them, do not support the president's efforts to open up diplomatic ties with cuba. many democrats, very liberal democrats in congress, do support the president's efforts there. so it is kind of a unique issue. will it be a big 2016 issue? i think the iran deal is a bigger 2016 issue. let's also look at cuban americans as a voting population. there's a large block in cuba, but they aren't a quickly growing voting population compared to other hispanic populations across the country. >> thank you very much. shira center, political editor for the boston globe. thank you very much. and of course, we will have jeb bush's speech live for you and bring it to you in the next hour. just moments away from history being made in cuba. a live look in havana where the american flag is going to be raised over the u.s. embassy in
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havana. right now, an empty flag pole as the crowds continue to grow. we'll bring you live reports from cuba as well as reaction here in the united states. keep it right here on "the rundown." welcome to fort green sheets. welcome to castle bravestorm. it's full of cool stuff, like... my trusty bow. and free of stuff i don't like. we only eat chex cereal. no artificial flavors, and it's gluten-free. mom, brian threw a ball in the house! when sends craig wilson a ready for you alert the second his room is ready, ya know what he becomes?
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be unstoppable. the all-new 2015 ford edge. welcome back to "the rundown" here on msn bbc. a live look at havana, cuba, as we're moments away from a pivotal moment in u.s.-cuba relations as the ceremonial reopening of the u.s. embassy is set for any moment with the american flag raised again in a few minutes. a look at the crowd there. secretary of state john kerry is there as well for this very historic moment here, looking at that podium where he is expected to speak later today. so again, expected to happen at 9:45. representing momentous event here, opening up diplomatic relations with cuba, something the united states has not seen
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as far as the flag being raised in 54 years. that was taken down in 1961. here's a live look on the left side of your screen, of the motorcade, john kerry, secretary of state john kerry is expected to come out of that. at any moment, this ceremony will begin. we see him coming out along with a delegation. and also, bears to mention, too, that he is using a cane there very symbolic of this cane being used. it was owned by senator ted kennedy. again, representing the turnaround of u.s.-cuban relations there, among other symbols that we're seeing as well during this ceremony. we know the three marines who are going to be present in raising that flag, one of them spoke earlier here on msnbc. they took down that flag more than five decades ago, and they will be there for the ceremony as that flag is raised once again.
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but of course, all of this comes with controversy, mixed emotions with especially cuban dissidents who won't be attending this ceremony. there will be another location as they watch this. john kerry saying that this is basically a government to government event. and he is expected to address them at another event later on. again, as we are awaiting this ceremony to start any moment now, a look at the podium and john kerry, again, making his way. and now you're looking at the crowds that have gathered to watch this. we have heard from many people who are extremely excited to see this opening up as far as a policy of engagement now with cuba and the united states. opening up diplomatic relations that hasn't been seen in decades and what it could mean. what it could mean down the road after the crowds leave, after the flag is flying there at the u.s. embassy.
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and again, what that means for the world, for the united states, other latin american nations and how that may open that up. again, and again, during this visit here to cuba with john kerry, the challenges he faces as well. and walking that fine line of taking a stance against human rights or for human rights, but without alienating, without alienating the cuban government as well that they worked so hard to get to this point. we are expecting 20 minutes from now for this to start. we want to bring in gabe gutierrez who is there. interesting to watch this happen. people watching history unfold as any moment the flag will be raised. give us a sense of the feeling? i'm sure a lot of excitement, but again, with the mixed feelings. >> exactly right, frances. the stage is set. the musicians are practicing behind me. throughout the morning, a very
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celebratory atmosphere in havana. the lettering is on the side of the building. that went up overnight. this is now united states embassy. this embassy will officially reopen on july 20th, but today is the ceremonial flag raising. extremely historic. the first time a u.s. secretary of state has been to havana in seven years. however, it's a complicated relationship between the two countries, a lot of differences still remain. most notably, what to do about the u.s. trade embargo. if you talk to people here on the streets, many cubans are hopeful this better relationship between the u.s. and cuba can lead to a better economic relationship. still, some of them are skeptical. and the trade embargo is still in place. still many travel restrictions still in place that prevents many americans from coming to cuba. so far this year, 54% more americans have visited this country. so a lot of high hopes here. secretary kerry, as he came to
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havana just said there will be hiccups along the way, but quote, it's a start. >> it is a start. especially when you hear from a cuban editorial saying that for the first time in 50 years, the cuba and the united states are treating each other as equals. while we can't refer to each other as friends or allies, we're on a path to improving relations. we see progress in the trade embargo as far as opening doors for tourism. airbnb having a jump and a spike in some of the praerpts where people can stay. carnival cruise is also opening up cruise lines there in cuba as well. but certainly, even just from the people there, interesting to hear a report from a reporter from our nbc affiliate who is reporting there that for just the scene that we take for granted here, the american flag being flown out of cars, you can't even get an american flag.
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something that would have been a punishment offense years ago, is something they're seeing there on the streets of havana today. >> yeah, exactly right, frances. we have been seeing the same thing. we have been here several times this year. a few weeks ago, and we saw not only american flags visible on the dashboards of taxi cabs, but young people in cuba are actually wearing the american flag, partly as a fashion statement on the streets of havana. quite amazing when you consider several years ago, that would not have been tolerated here. as you said, businesses here are starting to pick up, although on a limited scale. airbnb launched here in havana on april 2nd, with just 1,000 listings. now it's up to 2,600. carnival cruise lines is planning these people-to-people exchanges starting next year. that's pending approval from the cuban government, and the u.s. is also authorizing more sea travel to cuba. they're also having luxury yachts, american yachts now
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making plans to come here. one of them has already docked, and they're building -- they're planning to have high-end luxury travelers here from the u.s. we should say, however, that with the u.s. trade embargo, tourism is still technically illegal here. but through certain exceptions to the u.s. travel ban, these american visitors are able to come to the island, and some 89,000 american visitors have come so far this year. >> gabe, stand by for us as we're awaiting the ceremony that is expected to start any moment. a live look at havana, cuba, where the crowds gathering with umbrellas and fans. a very hot day, but worth standing out there in the heat for this moment to witness history as the american flag will be raised over the u.s. embassy and the reopening of that embassy for the first time in 54 years since the flag was taken down in january of 1961. i want to bring in christopher dickey. interesting when you see the celebration, the excitement from
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many people, it is bittersweet and also mixed emotions when it comes to these dissidents who have actually flatly called this a lame excuse as far as their not being able to attend the ceremony, christopher. >> yes, frances, but i think the direction of everything that you're talking about is one that's going ultimately to help the dissidents and probably going to undermine greatly the regime that the castros have established. you know, i first went to cuba in 1981. and i have been following events there ever since. the whole thing that fidel and raul have created is a revolution of lowered expectations where people just kind of accept what they have to deal with, except for these small dissident groups. now, there's no excuse for those lowered expectations. they're not going to be able to blame or shouldn't be able to blame the embargo anymore. and they'll have to start -- and they will start holding their
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government accountable. i think all of that is a positive trend. >> and talk a little bit about fidel castro and interesting, who is not expected to be at this ceremony, coming out and saying the united states, they owe us millions as far as reparations for decades of the long embargo here and how that comes into play and speaking so strongly about that. >> well, of course he's going to say that. he thinks there is an opportunity now to win back some of the money that cuba lost. largely because of his own regime, but also because of the blockai blockade, as they call it. i don't think he's going to get far and he's not going to show up at the ceremony for a number of reasons, not the least of which is he's a very old, very sick man. >> chris, stand by as we await the sceremony. taking various shots of the u.s. embassy reopening in havana, cuba. what you saw in the shot, the lettering above the building already there.
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the one piece that's missing is the united states, the american flag that is expected to raised any moment now. i want to bring in nbc's mark potter. 200 miles away from cuba in miami is where he is. i can imagine cuban americans gathderring there in little havana, once a haven for the exile community. what is the feel there in the streets of little havana? >> hi, frances. we're indeed at the versailles restaura restaurant, the traditional gathering place for cuban exiles on political matters. there are hardly anybody here, maybe 30 people. you can hear a loud speaker in the background. there are a few folks here. all of them are opposed to what's happening in cuba, the raising of the flag, the opening of the embassy, the improving of political relations. they think it helps cuba much more than the united states. this scene here at versailles suggests what is happening in mi
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miami, which is a change in attitude toward cuba. there's a more nuanced view, a mixed view, even in the cuban-american community, some people believe that the changes now are the proper came and confronted him. they almost came to blows, two people. if this were 15 years ago, francis, there would be 2,000 people involved in that brawl. 15 years ago, these streets were filled with all the people who were concerned about elan gonzalez, who was still in this community. now they can barely get a few dozen people here at most. so the town has changed. most cuban americans today are at work.
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they're in the boardrooms of corporations, they're at universities, they're in government centers all around. this group, this crowd, many of whom are here from the elan gonzalez days, is shrinking. and the passions are still here among many people, but the manifestations of them are not what they used to be. this is a different town than it was, and again, if this were happening -- this couldn't have happened ten years ago. if it d there would abe lot more people out here, a lot more noise, a lot more passion. it's a different town today, francis. >> and you were there feeling the passion and the emotion ten years ago. you've been covering the cuban-american community for decades. for you, to watch this happen, to look around and see just a handful of people there but knowing that that flag, our american flag, is going to be raised at the embassy in cuba, how is that for you? >> well, when i came to this town nearly 40 years ago as a young reporter, a much younger
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reporter, in 1976, if you had spoken then about peace with cuba -- i'm going to say this -- it would get you killed. that happened, actually, almost to a famous news man here who spoke about ending the cuban anti-terrorism. that's all he was talking about was peace, and he was blown up in his car right before i got here. 15 years ago i was hit in the head with a sign as i was standing outside elan gonzalez's home because the crowds were so passionate. today i'm probably going to have a cup of coffee and sit back and hear the speaker here with the crowd. it's changed. >> i've been there in versailles with the impressive steak. thank you for that perspective. i want to bring in chief correspondent of affairs, andrea
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mitchell. she's live. as we watch these shots of the crowd growing and knowing what this means, especially for president obama and this turning point now decades in the making, talk a little about the feel there, and from your perspective, knowing you have watched and followed this. >> francis, this is so remarkable, because being here, this is exactly the location that i was at when i first came to cuba in 1999 to cover enormous protests. these streets were filled with anti-american protesters about elian gonzalez, a six-year-old child who was in the middle of this national custody dispute which symbolized the whole disagreement between the two countries and became so difficult. and this protest was angry and raucous and the government here was taking advantage of what they felt was what the courts
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eventually ruled was an unfair dispute, that the child belonged back with his father. now elian gonzalez is a man in his 20s and has lived happily here in havana. still has warm feelings about the united states from his time in washington, d.c. when he was in temporary custody there. but that sort of symbolizes the whole transition. it's taken so long. it was brokered in secret by a lot of people, by senator pat lahey who arrived here on the plane with secretary kerry, by the pope himself, secret talks in canada, a wild story involving the artificial insemination of the wife of one of the cuban prisoners being held in the united states with the laheys bringing semen from the prisoner in the united states to havana so she could become pregnant. that was one of the demands before they released alan gross taking place all back on
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september 15. we're at a turning point, but there is still a lot of trouble. political dissidents have not been invited to the ceremony. people are criticizing that. the "washington post" criticized senator kerry and the state for that this morning in its editorial. he is going to meet with them privately this afternoon in a diplomatic residence here, but that is not the same as being at the ceremony and having press coverage. >> still, andrea, as we await this ceremony starting a little bit late, talk about how it's heavy in symbolism. you talked about symbolism leading up to it, but when the actual ceremony starts in itself, you have the three marines who in 1960 were the ones who took down the american flag. they will be represented there as well. and also john kerry needing a cane from his bike accident, but the specific cane he's using belonged to the late senator ted kennedy as well. so fascinating to hear about
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those areas of symbolism that we'll see today. >> absolutely. it brings you back to 1961. the cane used by the youngest of the kennedy brothers, and he, of course, was a senior senator, had long wanted this kind of normalization, which is now being affected by his junior senator and partner from massachusetts, now the secretary of state, to reverse, at least in part, the diplomatic isolation of havana that was affected by john kennedy in 1961, the three marines, retired now. somewhat frail, they're on the plane from andrews air force base, will be here to hand the stars and stripes to the current marine brigade to raise the american flag. the embassy has been technically opened, but this is the cerem y ceremonial opening, and the flag has been raised in b.c.
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that's certainly a prerequisite before congress would even consider lifting the trade embargo. >> any minute now we should see that flag being raised at the flagpole at the u.s. embassy in ha van havana, cuba. we await more as we bring you this historical moment. we'll be right back after this break. when my back pain flared up we both felt it i took tylenol at first but i had to take 6 pills to get through the day. then my friend said "try aleve". just two pills, all day. and now, i'm back for my best bud! aleve. all day strong and try aleve pm, now with an easy open cap. when broker chris hill stays at laquinta and fires up free wi-fi, with a network that's now up to 5 times faster than before you know what he can do? let's see if he's ready.
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this week, filler paper and folders just one cent. office depot officemax. gear up for school. gear up for great. at ally bank no branches equalsit's a fact.. kind of like mute buttons equal danger. ...that sound good? not being on this phone call sounds good. it's not muted. was that you jason? it was geoffrey! it was jason. it could've been brenda. we are witnessing history in ha van havana, cuba. just moments from now the american flag will be raised over the embassy in cuba for the first time in over 50 years. sebt secretary of state john kerry will be arriving and speaking, and we'll bring it to you as it unfolds. i'd like to bring you my panel.
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to all of you we appreciate your time as we are awaiting this mome momentous moment here that can happen any moment. marian, if we can start with you, when it comes to this visit from secretary kerry and diplomacy that is so sensitive in knowing that we are at this pivotal moment in american and cuban relations, talk a little bit about the fine line that the secretary has to walk today, especially when taking a stance against, you know, for human rights but at the same time not alien a alienating the cuban government and the dissidents as well. how does he do that? >> i think actually it's not such a fine line. for more than five decades, the u.s. championed and represented the interests of the cuban people and refused to recognize the communist party and the rule of fidel castro as legitimate. today, without any guarantee of political reform on behalf of the cuban government, we are legitimizing their rule. and the most symbolic element of
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the event happening today in havana is the absence of any dissidents of the cuban government there on the ground. and this is a huge departure from american principled stand of the people in the party. >> i want to get to the "washington post" in an article running today saying this quote: the officials' u.s. explanation for excludeing the dissidents is the flag-raising ceremony is a government to government affair. this is lame. inviting the dissidents would be a demonstration to raul and fidel castro of what the flag stand for. people freely choosing their leaders, a pluralism of views and a public engaging in the institutions and traditions controlled and ruled by fear.
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anna, to you, is this a missed opportunity for the united states? >> it's absolutely a missed opportunity, and it clearly shows a sharp deviation away, as marion was saying, he totally hit the nail on the head for engaging the people and supporting the dissidents. for the secretary of state to say this is a government to government affair is an absolute farce, because there are anti-embargo lobbying organizations that are going to be a part of the flag raising ceremony. so tell me, how can they invite folks who are purposely working to lift the embargo, right, to undermine human rights on the island and yet not invite the dissidents? that makes absolutely no sense. >> as we continue this talk and await this ceremony to begin, anessa, you're here with me in new york. some are giving you credit for actually running the editorials. it built the momentum needed and the talks for reestablishment of relationships here. what did you see when you went to cuba, and what made you think that really this time, out of all times, was right for this new relationship? >> one thing i was very struck by is that cubans from all
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backgrounds, cubans that are close to the government, cubans that are opposed to the government, very much want engagement. they want to see the united states engaged and they want to see the united states change its policy. they want, for example, cultural exchanges. they want to have an easier time traveling to the united states. so across the board with a few exceptions, people very much favored this new approach. >> it's interesting as far as your words go in those editorials leading up to this moment as we're seeing everybody again there. the crowds have gathered, standing up as this ceremony is about to happen. again, we saw the entrance of some of the marines taking part in this ceremony. but again, everybody standing up. so once this happens, of course, we'll dip in a little bit, sp h especially when secretary kerry takes to the podium and speaks as that plag flag is raised or
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afterwards. ella, is there argument that it makes it harder for the next leader of cuba to retain communism? >> no, i'm sorry. what we're doing right now, this new policy does not help the cuban people. that's one thing we need to be absolutely clear about. because nobody is calling the cuban government out for being a military dictatorship, for being the longest running military dictatorship in the western hemisphere. you were giving credit to the work of the "new york times" for kind of paving the ground. what he has done and what the "new york times" has done is perpetuate their legacy, and that's a horrible thing. >> i'll give them the chance to respond, but as we are watching thi this, this, ernesto, we listen intently as this delegation is coming in, as we expect secretary of state john kerry, the three marines symbolically are there.
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actually, i'm hearing they're introducing the cuban delegation walking inside as well, as many people in havana there at the u.s. embassy and eyes around the world are watching this at this moment, especially with the mixed feelings from the dissidents who have not been invited but will later be with secretary kerry at a private event as he will meet with them after this one. let's turn now to nbc's gabe gutierrez who is there live in havana, and everybody is standing for this moment, so we are literally, literally just moments away from this historic moment, gabe. >> reporter: that's right, francis, the stage is set. the quintet has been practicing all morning as a sense of celebration here. you can see from the cameras, that's where the celebration is supposed to take place, right in front of the u.s. embassy. what you might not be able to see is across the street, there
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are people who have gathered. there appears to be at least a hundred people that have gathered, onlookers, perhaps tourists, perhaps there are some journalists as well and some cubans that are there. the cuban flag is visible. a lot of people are standing in the heat to take in this historic moment. as we've been talking about, this is something that we would not have even dreamed about even several years ago. so a lot of anticipation for this ceremony as secretary of state john kerry makes his visits. to havana, the first secretary of state to do so in 70 years. >> secretary kerry there obviously with big smiles and a nice wave as he is rounding out again symbolically holding the cane that once belonged to the late senator ted kennedy. you can see some applause and many people there excited to see
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the these, even some hugs, even a victory lap of sorts for president obama, the administration opening up these ties once again with cuba. secretary kerry there -- he appears to have dropped something, but there with the marines who are there going to be hoisting the flag. also the three marines who in 1961 took down that flag. certainly a moment for them, as they describe it, one of disappointment and really signalling the change there and now we're seeing that right back around. secretary kerry with big smiles as this ceremony is starting out. any moment now, too, we are expecting some remarks by the cuban delegation, a poem also recited there, and also remarks by secretary kerry followed by the national anthem with the united states and cuba being played there. gabe, tell us a little of what will be expected.
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this is where i know he will go into a private residence and meet with those dissidents. >> reporter: that's right, francis, he has a very busy day here in havana. after the ceremony, he is supposed to meet with the cuban foreign minister. he is supposed to have a joint news conference with the foreign minister. after that there is a reception at the chief of mission's office here in havana, and that is where he will meet with civic leaders from the cuban community as well as those cuban political dissidents. it did get some attention that those dissidents were not invited to this ceremony. the reason the state department gave for that was, one, this was a government to government event, but also because of the space issue. but the fact is, francis, this is a very delicate event in u.s. and cuba relations. cuban political dissidents perhaps had a deference with the cuban government. the u.s. may not have had them here, but secretary kerry is expressing he still hears the voices of those dissidents.
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and as the relationship between cuba and the u.s. improves, secretary kerry is continuing to stress that they will push for advances in human rights, and that secretary kerry will meet with those dissidents this afternoon. he also says he plans to stroll through the streets of havana hearing from the voices of cubans. francis? >> jeffrey is speaking there as this ceremony is getting under way. that is the ambassador there who just spoke. as the ceremony is getting under way, we are expecting a poem to be read, then the secretary will be sharing some of his words as well. but as we await this, also looking into the comparisons of when the cuban embassy was open in that ceremony where, unlike in this case, dissidents were there and were in attendance, too, and what has been blasted by the "washington post" in
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their editorial today saying that the u.s. -- the official u.s. explanation for excluding the dissidents, that it's a government to government affair, is lame, in their words. i want to bring in "the daily beast." mr. dickey, you're well. i understand you can still hear us and understand what's happening? >> i can, indeed. >> talk about that, this historic moment where we see images of the american flag flying amongst cubans on the streets today, that flag about to be raised any moment now. what happens after the world media leaves? what happens when those cubans are flying the flags but, again, all attention after this historic day has been a little bit swayed away? >> well, obviously there won't be as much attention as there is right now, but there is going to be continued attention on cuba because there is going to be a level of contact between cubans and people from the united states that we haven't seen in
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50 years. there are going to be a lot of americans going there, forming their own opinions. the cubans are going to be in contact with those americans, talking to them, getting to know them much better. all of that is going to have, i think, a very destructive impact on the power of the castro regime. now, whether it's going to bring it down or not, that's a different question. but i think that -- and i think obviously a lot of people who are talking to you on the air right now would like to see that regime brought down. but, you know, that's not going to happen. >> if i can interrupt you now, i want to take a look here live at richard blanco as he delivers a poem. >> for the people of both our countries who believed that not even the seed can keep us from one another, matters of the sea
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cause us del mar. the sea does not matter. the answer is this. we all belong to the sea between us. all of us, once and still the same child who marvels over starfish, listens to hollow shells, sculpts dreams into impossible castles. we've all been lovers holding hands, strolling down either of our shores, our footprints like a mirage of shells vanish in waves that don't know their birth or care on which country they break. they break, they bless us and return to the sea, home to all our silent wishes.
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no one is the other to the other to the sea, whether on hemmed island or vast continent, remember our grandfathers, their hands dug deep into red or brown earth, planting maple or mango trees that outlive them. our grandmothers, counting years while dusting photos of their wedding days, those brittle family faces still alive on our dressers now. our mothers teaching us how to read in spanish or english, how to tie our shoes, how to gather fall's colors or bite into a guava. our fathers warned at the weight of clouds, clocking into
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factories or cutting sugarcane to earn a new life for us. my cousins and i now scouting the same stars of skyscrapers or palms waiting for time to stop and begin again when rain falls, washes its way through river or street back to the sea. no matter what anthem we sing, we've all walked barefoot and bare souled among the dive of seagulls' cries. we've offered our sorrows up to the sea, our lips salted with the same spray of wind. we have memories of regrets like stones in our hands that we just
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can't toss. yet -- yet -- we've all come to seashells up to our ears. listen again to the echo. today the sea still telling us the end to all our doubts and fears is to gaze into the lucid blues of our shared horizon, to breathe together, to heal together. thank you. [ applause [ applause ] >> announcer: ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the national anthem of the republic of cuba.
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♪ ♪ [ applause ]
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>> thank you, richard blanco, for such inspirational remarks. it is now my very great honor to introduce the secretary of state of the united states, john kerry. [ applause ] >> please be seated, everybody. thank you very, very much, muchos gracias, buenos, nachos. i'm sorry we arrived a little bit late today, but i'm glad to be here. distinguished members of the cuban delegation, thank you, for your leadership and for all the work of your delegation.
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e xl lencies and all the embassy staff and friends watching around the world. thank you for joining us at this truly historic moment as we prepare to raise the united states flag here at our embassy in havana, symbolizing the reestablishment of diplomatic relations after 54 years. this is also the first time that a united states secretary of state has been to cuba since 1945. [ applause ] >> this morning i feel very much at home here, and i'm grateful to those who have come to share in this ceremony who are standing around outside of our facilities. and i feel at home here because this is truly a memorable
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occasion. a day for pushing aside old barriers and exploring new possibilities. and it is in that spirit that i say on behalf of my country [ speaking foreign language ] [ speaking foreign language ]
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[ speaking foreign language ] >> my friends, we are gathered here today because our leaders, president obama and president castro, made a courageous decision to stop being the prisoners of history and to focus on the opportunities of today and tomorrow. this doesn't mean that we should or will forget the past. how could we, after all? at least for my generation, the images are indelible. in 1959, fidel castro came to the united states and was greeted by enthusiastic crowds. returning the next year for the u.n. general assembly, he was
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embraced by then-soviet premiere niki nikita kruschev. the next year the bay of pigs unfolded with kruschev taking responsibility. the next time the missile crisis rose to the days that pushed us to the very threshold of nuclear war. i was a student then, and i can still remember the taut faces of our leaders, the grim map showing the movement of opposing ships, the approaching deadline, and that peculiar word "quarantine." we were unsettled and uncertain about the future. because we didn't know, when closing our eyes at night, what we would find when we woke up. in that frozen environment, diplomatic ties between washington and this capital city were strained, then stretched
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thin, then severed. in late 1960, the u.s. ambassador left havana. early the following january, cuba demanded a big cut in the size of our diplomatic mission, and president eisenhower then decided he had no choice but to shut the embassy down. most of the u.s. staff departed quickly, but a few stayed behind to hand the keys over to our swiss colleagues, who would serving diligently and honorably as our protecting power for more than 50 years. i just met with the foreign minister d.j.burkhalter grateful to switzerland always for their service and help. [ applause ] >> among those remaining at the embassy were three marine guards, larry morris, mike east and jim tracy.
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as they stepped outside, they were confronted by a large crowd standing between them and the flagpole. tensions were high. no one felt safe. but the marines had a mission to accomplish, and slowly the crowd just parted in front of them as they made their way to the flagpole, lowered old glory, folded it and returned to the building. larry, mike and jim had done their jobs, but they also made a bold promise that one day they would return to havana and raise the flag again. [ applause [ applause ] >> at the time no one could have imagined how distant that day would be. for more than half a century, u.s.-cuban relations have been stranded in the ember of cold
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politics. the embers of americans and cubans have grown up and grown old. the united states has had ten new presidents. in a united germany, the berlin wall is a fading memory. freed from soviet shackles, central europe is again home to thriving democracies. last week i was in hanoi to mark the 20th anniversary of normalization of relations between the united states and vietnam. think about that. a long and terrible war that inflicted indelible scars on body and mind followed by two decades of mutual healing followed by another two decades of diplomatic and commercial engagement. in this period, vietnam evolved from a country torn apart by violence into a dynamic society with one of the world's fastest growing economies. and all that time, through
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reconciliation, through normalization, cuban-american relations remained locked in the past. meanwhile, new technologies enabled people everywhere to benefit from shared projects across vast stretches of ocean and land. my friends, it doesn't take a gps to realize that the road of mutual isolization and estrangement that the united states and cuba were traveling was not the right one, and the time has come for us to move in a more promising direction. in the united states, that means recognizing that u.s. policy is not the anvil on which cuba's future will be forged. decades of good intentions aside, the policies of the past have not led to a democratic relation in cuba. it would unreasonable to expect
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that normalized relations would have, in the short term, an impact. after all, cuban relations are for cubans to shake. accountability rests as it should not with any outside entity but solely within the citizens of this country. but the leaders in havana and the cuban people should also know that the united states will always remain a champion of democratic principles and reforms. like many other governments in and outside this hemisphere, we will continue to urge the cuban government to fulfill its obligations under the u.n. and american human rights covenants, obligations shared by the united states and every other country in the americas. and, indeed, we remain convinced the people of cuba would be best served by a genuine democracy, where people are free to choose their leaders, express their
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ideas, practice their faith with a commitment to economic and social justice is realized mo n mournfully, where institutions are allowed to flourish. let me be clear, the establishment of normal diplomatic relations is not something that one government does as a favor to another. it is something the two countries do together when the citizens of both will benefit. and in this case, the reopening of our embassies is important on two levels: people to people and government to government. first, we believe it's helpful for the people of our nations to learn more about each other, to meet each other. that is why we are encouraged that travel from the united states to cuba has already increased by 35% since january and is continuing to go up. we are encouraged that more and
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more u.s. companies are exploring commercial ventures here that would create opportunities for cuba's own rising number of entrepreneurs. and we are encouraged that u.s. firms are interested in helping cuba expand its telecommunications and internet links and that the government here recently pledged to create dozens of new and more affordable wi-fi hot spots. we also want to acknowledge the special role that the cuban-american community is playing in establishing a new relationship between our countries. and, in fact, we have with us this morning representatives from that community, some of whom were born here, and others were born in the united states. with their strong ties of culture and family, they can contribute much to the spirit, apply lateral cooperation and progress that we are seeking to create, just as they have contributed much to their
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communities in their adopted land. the restoration of diplomatic ties will also make it easier for our governments to engage. after all, we are neighbors, and neighbors will always have much to discuss in such areas as civil aviation, migration policy, disaster preparedness, protecting marine environment, global climate change and other tougher and more complex issues. having normal relations makes it easier for us to talk, and talk can deepen understanding even when we know full well we will not see eye to eye on everything. we are all aware that notwithstanding president obama's new policy, the overall u.s. embargo on trade with cuba remains in place and can only be lifted by congressional action, a step that we strongly favor. [ applause ]
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>> for now, the president has taken steps to ease restrictions on remittances on exports and imports to help cuban private entrepreneurs, for telecommunications and family travel, but we want to go further. the goal on all these changes is to help cubans connect with the world and improve their lives. just as we are doing our part, we urge the cuban government to make it less difficult for their citizens to start businesses, to engage in trade, access information on line. the embargo has always been something of a two-way street. both sides need to remove restrictions that have been holding cubans back. before closing, i want to sincerely thank leaders throughout the americas who have long urged the united states and cuba to restore normal ties.
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i thank the holy father, pope francis, and the vatican for supporting the start of a new chapter in relations between our countries. and i think it is not accidental that the holy father will come here and then to washington in the united states at this moment. i applaud president obama and president caso both for having the courage to bring us together in the face of considerable opposition. i am grateful to assistant secretary of state roberta jacobson and her team to our counterparts in the cuban foreign ministry, to our chief admission bettes and his extraordinary staff, for all the hard work that has led up to this day. i just say to our wonderful embassy staff, if you think you've been busy these past months, hold on to your seat belts. but above all, above all, i want
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to pay tribute to the people of cuba and to the cuban-american community in the united states. jose marte once said that everything that divides men is a sin against humanity. clearly the events of the past, the harsh words, the provocative and retaliatory actions, the human tragedies all have been a source of deep division that has diminished our common humanity. there have been too many days of sacrifice and sorrow, too many decades of suspicion and fear. that is why i am heartened by the many on both sides of the streets who, whether because of family ties or a simple desire to replace anger with something more productive, have endorsed this search for a better path. we have begun to move down that path without any illusions about how difficult it may be, but we
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are each confident in our intentions, confident in the contacts that we have made, and pleased with the friendships that we have begun to forge. and we are certain that the time is now to reach out to one another as two peoples who are no longer enemies or rivals but neighbors. time to unfurl our flags, raise them up and let the world know that we wish each other well. [ speaking foreign language ]
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>> it is with that healing mission in mind that i turn now to jim tracy, mike east and lawrence. 50 years ago you vowed to raise the american flag that you lowered long ago. today i greet the american people to fulfill that pledge of the american stars and stripes to be raised by our military detachment. larry, jim and mike, this is your chance to raise those words that would make any diplomat proud just as they would any united states marine corps. promise made, promise kept. thank you. [ applause ] >> announcer: ladies and
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gentlemen, please rise for the raising of the flag and the national anthem of the united states. ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ [ applause ] >> announcer: ladies and gentlemen, please remain in place while the official
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delegation departs. ♪ >> as the delegation departs there, cheers and applause for the first time in more than 50 years the american flag is flying in havana. the american embassy once again opened in cuba, one of the last of the cold war enemies, this as secretary john kerry exchanging ha handshakes and hugs, celebratory handshakes and hugs of this ceremony marking more than 50 years that that american flag has been taken down. if you think of the timeline here in december, it was when president obama and castro announced that ties would be reestablished between the united
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states and cuba. here we are eight months later with the united states flag flying over cuba after this ceremony today, history in the making. i want to turn now to nbc's gabe gutierrez who is live there in havana. interesting to hear from secretary kerry, the first secretary of state to visit havana and cuba since 1945 saying, in his opening words, gabe, that he feels at home, a day for pushing aside old barriers while exploring new possibilities. so certainly a turning point, a historic one, but still paves the way for all the work that needs to be done, gabe. >> reporter: that's absolutely right, frances. as you mentioned, the first secretary of state to come to cuba in 70 years. the secretary spoke about a new relationship with cuba. he talked about how, towards the end of the speech, he said that both countries no longer enemies or rivals but neighbors, and that was extremely significant. also one of the lines where he
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got a lot of applause was he said he favored ending the embargo in cuba. only congress can lift that embargo, but secretary kerry putting it on congress, and certainly there have been some critics in congress, especially among the cuban-american community, who say that this thaw in diplomatic relations, h this restoration in diplomatic relations is only awarding castro with no concessions on human rights. that was only briefly alluded to here by secretary kerry saying there are still many dimpfferens between the two countries. he said the thaw in diplomatic relations is done to improve the lives of cubans. but he also says that both sides, the u.s. and cuba, need to remove the restrictions. he thanked pope francis for his role in making this happen. all in all, just an incredible moment to watch this flag rise at the u.s. embassy here in
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havana for the first time since 1961. three marines who were here on that day are on hand as they had lowered it back in 1961. they're here 54 years later, truly incredible sight as we look at it right now, right next to monaco, the u.s. flag waving right there in front of that crystal clear water. it's a very hot day. you see people here, onlookers who have gathered. people in the ceremony they are with fans on hand. it is an extremely warm day, but the sun is just an incredible picture, frances, and to see all the people here who thought they would never see this day, it's certainly an incredible moment. >> it's certainly incredible when you see the old stastars a stripes of old glory flying there today. the cubans have gathered along with the cuban flag, both flags flying above the crowds as they
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now have started to leave following this ceremony. certainly a historic moment there in cuba, but some kroefrl momen -- controversial moments at home. there are some who have gathered at a restaurant there. i want to turn now to nbc news' mark potter who has been there earlier before this ceremony started with somewhat smaller crowds. mark, did those crowds grow to watch this moment? >> reporter: yeah, more reporters and more police officers showed up, because there was a little dust-up that was settled right away, and the police officers left. we're really talking only about a handful of protesters here. you would measure them in dozens. if this were 15 years ago at the time of elian gonzalez, this would have been measured in hundreds, perhaps thousands. the town has changed, passions have cooled. everybody here that i've talked to is very much against what's happening in havana today, and that is still a widespread
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feeling in miami, but you have to understand that the town has changed. the view here is more nuanced. it's mixed now. there are a lot of people in miami who believe that what is happening now, the political opening, is the right way to deal with cuba. and that is shared with many people in the cuban-american community. polls show that, editorials show that, public comment shows that. this town has dramatically changed and the method of dissent has changed. this is almost a cartoonish representation of the cuban community. cubans don't live in little havana anymore, they've moved on. they are in corporate boardrooms, they're in the top floors of government centers and emergency rooms. central americans live in little havana now, but this is still the traditional gathering spot, but that tradition seems like it's waning. very few people have shown up here today to protest. people protest through contributing to political campaigns, voting all the way that everybody else does.
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the big protests of a decade ago are not happening anymore. you can barely see them back there. >> do you think that's generational? do you think that because now we're talking about young cuban americans -- stand by, mark potter, for us there in little havana as we turn to one of our colleagues, nbc's lester holt and andrea mitchell who are there in havana. andrea, you've been to havana, cuba many times. lester, this is your first time. talk a little about that moment and the words coming from secretary kerry in saying this, pushing aside old barriers, now time to explore these new possibilities. >> well, as i noted to andrea, we were here, the flag goes up, you hear the crowd erupt in applause, the star spangled banner. it was a historic moment, and i would say an emotional moment, those of us who have lived through the cold war to see this moment, another chapter fades away. but no one is suggesting that this is an official burying of
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the hatchet here. these countries still have a lot of work to do, a lot of issues that separate them. human rights, of course, one of them. there are big financial considerations going forward about what happened to the money of those u.s. companies who were swept up during the cuban takeover, the communist revolution. so a lot of work to be done, but i think the point is those who started this, you have at least opened up the platform for dialogue. >> and as well, mark potter who you were just talking to, there will be people who have lost hope and will want to come back, and they will be legal across the water. this is just the beginning. but what john kerry was saying is that we have diplomatic relations with countries all over the world, totalitarian countries, humanity countries, and at least there is a chance to work things out.
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in the past six months, they have worked out the introduction of credit cards and banking and air rates, and travel restrictions are being eased to the sense that the president can do it through the treasury department. cuba has agreed to more wi-fi hot spots to the internet can be accessible to average citizens, not just the elites. it is a start. still, there is criticism that john kerry is only meeting with political dissidents later in private at the diplomatic residence of the chief mission here, not at the secelebratory opening, saying there was not room. as you can see, there is a lot of room here on the plaza, and they say that is a lame excuse. it was january 1961 when this flag was first taken down under dwight eisenhower, january 3rd. john f. kennedy did not take office until january 20, but he,
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as we all know, took a very hard line and agreed to the bay of pigs, which was one of the references john kerry made. so he agreed to a lot of the disputes on both sides of this divide in the past 50 years. >> leading up to this pivotal moment and entering this next phase in the question of what will happen with cuban and american economic ties as well as the trade embargo, and also with the cubans and the dissidents and how they'll approach it long after. andrea, you leave, lester, you leave this world as well in a very difficult next phase as we all will witness. lester holt and andrea mitchell, thank you, as always. appreciate your perspective. another big story we are following here, a live look at the iowa state fair. jeb bush is speaking right now on the fair's soapbox. we'll bring you more when we come back. eets. welcome to castle bravestorm. it's full of cool stuff, like... my trusty bow. and free of stuff i don't like.
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just moments ago, gop presidential candidate jeb bush released a statement on secretary kerry's visit to cuba calling it a birthday present for fidel castro. bush is speaking at the iowa state fair right now, and msnbc's casey hunt is also in des moines, iowa with governor bush, and casey, tell us more what the statement said. >> reporter: sure, francis. governor jeb bush just finished his statement here at the iowa state fair, but his campaign put it out as a birthday present to fidel castro. bush also spoke to supporters here and said secretary kerry is doing a victory dance in havana. he called that particularly insulting to the dissidents in cuba who are still trying to protest the castro regime. but francis, i will tell you having just heard his speech here at the state fair, he had a pretty big crowd here, bigger than yesterday's for mike huckabee, although there were some times he struggled for
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applause lines. he gave out his e-mail address,, and reporter here think this is the first time a candidate has given out his e-mail. he also pledged to campaign in an american way, saying he will do so with no rope lines. that was an unveiled shot at hillary clinton who literally roped reporters in as she campaigned in new hampshire during a parade. i would also point out the one issue i've now heard raised with both republican candidates who have spoken here so far is common core. mike huckabee was asked about it yesterday. he was previously a supporter of common core. jeb bush was asked about it today, has been a proponent. jeb bush said those words are now so poisonous, the phrase common core, that he doesn't even know what they mean anymore. a shift from jeb bush, although he says he is for higher standards, whether that's common core or some other way of doing
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it from the states. francis? >> certainly making his message known there at the iowa state farrah long with the statement of secretary kerry in cuba with his statement. jeb bush releasing that statement saying, the accommodation of the castro regime comes -- you know what, i was reading that one right there. the accommodation of the castro regime comes at the expense of the freedom and democracy that all cubans deserve, but cubans' only crime is to speak out against freedom and they will open the u.s. embassy. they call this a birthday present for fidel castro, saying u.s. policy has changed but cuba has not. so we have been monitoring that historic moment and covering the historic moment in relations between the united states and
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cuba. the united states flag is now flying high above the embassy in havana for the first time in 54 years with secretary john kerry speaking at the ceremony just a few minutes ago. >> there have been decades of suspicious and fear. that is why i am heartened by the many on both sides of the streets who, whether because of family ties or a simple desire to replace anger with something more productive, have endorsed this search for a better path. >> an historic day, but certainly not without controversy. proponents point out the human rights abuses of the cuba regime and the refusal to implement real diplomatic changes for the people of cuba. nonetheless, today's events mark a major step in the thawing of relations between the two foes. we thank you so much for
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being with us the past two hours and that wraps up "the rundown" on msnbc. tamron hall with "news nation" is next. american express for travel and entertainment worldwide. just show them this - the american express card. don't leave home without it! and someday, i may even use it on the moon. it's a marvelous thing! oh! haha! so you can replace plane tickets, traveler's cheques, a lost card. really? that worked? american express' timeless safety and security are now available on apple pay.
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esurance. backed by allstate. click or call. right now on "news nation," is al gore ready to run for president? there is a new claim now that gore insiders are trying to figure out a path for him to run again. is this a sign that democrats have doubts over hillary clinton? a historic day in havana. secretary of state john kerry is in cuba on the ground as the american flag flies there for the first time in 54 years. but it is not without controversy. we'll take you live to cuba. plus, still smoldering hot spots remain two days in china. a man is pulled out alive two days after the catastrophic
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explosions. good morning, everyone. i'm tamron hall. we begin with the latest shocker in the 2016 presidential race. al gore is thinking about jumping into the race again. the former vice president lost to george w. bush. is there a path politically? a source tells nbc news there is nothing substantive happening. the buzz about al gore comes with vice president joe biden seriously considering a run for president, sources telling nbc news that the vice president, who is vacationing in south carolina, has started to reach out to close friends and allies to discuss a possible run. all of this underscores the concern by some democrats about hillary clinton's ongoing e-mail issue. nbc's kelly o'donnell spoke with one of clinton's democratic opponents martin o'malley while republicans are certainly also still weighing


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