After 54 years of frosty relations between the United States and Cuba, the neighbouring countries formally restored relations by opening their respective embassies. The Cuban flag was hoisted over Havana's embassy in Washington on 20 July during the embassy's reopening.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez presided over the ceremony hours after full diplomatic relations with the US were restored at midnight on 20 July.

Rodriguez took the opportunity to call on US President Barack Obama to use his executive powers to further dismantle the economic embargo on Cuba, Reuters reported.

"The historic events we are living today will only make sense with the removal of the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes so much deprivation and damage to our people, the return of occupied territory in Guantanamo, and respect for the sovereignty of Cuba," Rodriguez said.

The foreign minister cited Cuban independent leader Jose Marti, who he said had applauded American values while warning of its "excess craving for domination."

The Cuban dignitary criticised the US for its continued usage of Guantanamo Bay, a US naval base in Cuba. The CS Monitor reported Rodriguez called the US military prison a "nefarious consequence" of America's attempt to rule the Western Hemisphere.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration urged Havana to improve its human rights record. Reuters reported White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters the administration was "hopeful" Cuba would show respect for basic human rights in the coming years.

Hundreds of people cheered outside of the embassy as the Cuban national anthem was played and three Cuban soldiers raised the flag, the CS Monitor reported. Another, smaller group of counter-demonstrators was heard yelling, "Cuba si, Fidel no!"

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with Rodriguez after the embassy's reopening, will travel to Havana on 14 August to preside over the flag-raising ceremony at the US embassy. The two countries's Interest Section social media pages both switched their accounts to read "embassy."

Deputy Chief of Mission for the US in Havana Conrad Tribble tweeted: "Just made first phone call to State Dept. Ops Center from United States Embassy Havana ever. It didn't exist in Jan 1961.

Although relations between the two countries have normalised, disputes regarding embargoes, economic sanctions and human rights issues continue.