U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Cuba Sunday on a historic trip, with the two nations moving to normalize their relations 55 years after they broke off ties. Obama, the first sitting U.S. president to travel to Cuba in almost 90 years, will cap his visit with a direct address to the Cuban people outlining his vision for the future U.S.-Cuba relationship.
The White House says Obama’s three-day visit, and his televised speech in Havana Tuesday, represents a new beginning in the relationship between the former Cold War enemies, expanding on the formal restoration of their diplomatic ties eight months ago.
“Diplomacy, including having the courage to turn a page on the failed policies of the past, is how we’ve begun a new chapter of engagement with the people of Cuba,” the president said during an appearance at the U.S. State Department several days before his departure.
¿Que bolá Cuba? Just touched down here, looking forward to meeting and hearing directly from the Cuban people.
— President Obama (@POTUS) March 20, 2016
While the president’s visit will mark a key turning point in the U.S.-Cuba relationship, it will be just the start of a long process of recovery for the nation after decades of isolation, Hanson said.
“Reforms with Cuba will help create a relationship with Cuba where the Cuban people get to play a larger role in their own destiny and the Cuban government is willing to open up more space for people to do things,” he added.
The White House has just announced it is easing restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba.
The regulatory changes allow for “people-to-people” visits to Cuba, eliminate a ban on Cuban financial transactions going through U.S. banks and allow Cuban citizens to earn salaries in the United States.
First lady Michele Obama will meet with female Cuban students during her time in Havana and the entire first family will attend a baseball game before they leave late Tuesday for a three-day visit to Argentina.
(VOA Report – Mary Alice Salinas)