In the most significant move yet toward normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba, the Obama administration said Tuesday that the two had agreed to open embassies in each other's countries.

The diplomatic development is the most authoritative move the Obama administration can make unilaterally without an act of Congress, which still holds the power to lift or retain the Cuban economic embargo that has been in place for decades. It comes six months after President Obama ordered the opening of relations, ending more than half a century of Cold War standoff as he promised to “cut loose the shackles of the past.”...

...Opposition crosses party lines. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a member and former chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, raised concerns at a recent hearing about continued human rights abuses by the Castro government.

“I have not seen any movement toward greater freedom for the Cuban people. I have not seen movement toward greater tolerance, democracy, or the rule of law,” he said in late May.

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