On the day the United States and Cuba restored full diplomatic ties after a half-century of acrimony, the scene at the newly opened Cuban Embassy in Washington was euphoric. A boisterous band played the Cuban national anthem as a three-man honor guard marched onto the front lawn and mounted the island nation’s flag. Five hundred dignitaries, including senior U.S. diplomats, a large visiting Cuban delegation, and U.S. lawmakers filled the nearly century-old mansion. Even Hollywood B-lister Danny Glover made an appearance.
But on that same day in mid-July, less than two miles away, another historic milestone occurred without a single reporter or media photographer to document it. In silence, the Swiss ambassador to the United States, Martin Dahinden, took out a screwdriver and removed a small golden plate from the Swiss Embassy that identified the Swiss government as the “protecting power” of Cuban interests in the United States.