Obama Visits Cuba
On an historic three-day visit to the communist island of Cuba, President Obama met one-on-one with Raul Castro, Cuba’s President. Raul Castro is the brother of retired revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro. Obama, who was traveling with his family, is the first U.S. President to visit Cuba since 1928 when Calvin Coolidge met with Cuban President Gerardo Machado.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle were greeted by Cuban officials upon their arrival on Sunday. Castro was not present. Castro’s absence sent Obama and the world a strong message; things will not change overnight.
This effort to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba is not without strain as both look to advance their agendas. Castro hopes to an end to the decades-old embargo while Obama wants to affirm his foreign policy vision and defend human rights.
An official welcoming session took place when Obama met with Castro at the Presidential palace. The two men held a news conference in which President Obama said the embargo of Cuba would be lifted, and urged Congress to act. Castro answered some media questions and denied that there are political prisoners being held in Cuba as he defended his record on human rights. Left up in the air is the question of whether Cuba will return any of the seized U.S. assets from the 1950’s when their economy was nationalized.
It remains to be seen whether what was once a bitter, adversarial relationship can move toward one of mutual respect. Only time will tell.