On July 20, after 54 years, the Cuban Embassy reopened its doors in Washington, D.C. The decision to reopen a Cuban Embassy in the nation's capital and a U.S. Embassy in Havana was the product of several years of diplomatic negotiation by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The historic re-establishment took place amidst much celebration from diplomats and politicians in Washington, where celebrants smoked Cuban cigars and enjoyed a reception lunch.

GettyImages-481415952 DePaul University history professor Felix Masud-Piloto smoked a cigar during the opening reception for the re-opening of the Cuban embassy. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Dwight D. Eisenhower severed diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1961 after the communist leader Fidel Castro took power. Castro overthrew President Fulgencio Batista in 1959 using guerilla warfare. Though Eisenhower initially welcomed Castro's rise to power, Cold War fears concerning the spread of communism and Soviet influence soon caused him to sever ties with the island nation.

The process of rekindling relations between the U.S. and Cuba took almost two years, though most people involved believe it will be many more years before trust can be restored. There is also the matter of how the reopening of the embassy might affect the lives of ordinary Cubans, many of whom fled to the U.S. during the reign of Fidel Castro.

“It is sort of like a wedding,” said James Williams, the president of an advocacy group, Engage Cuba, the New York Times reported. “You’ve spent all this time planning your wedding day, and finally you’re getting to see someone walk down the aisle,” he said.

Not everyone was thrilled with the decision to reopen the embassy, however. Some activists have protested the reopening of the embassy, particularly those who believe that negotiating with Cuba's current leader, Raul Castro, will only lead to violence and corruption in Cuba.