Tags: obama | cuba

Obama: Cuba Visit Big Step in Restoring Relations with Island Nation

Image: Obama: Cuba Visit Big Step in Restoring Relations with Island Nation
U.S. President Barack Obama tours Old Havana with his family at the start of a three-day visit to Cuba, in Havana March 20, 2016. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

By    |   Monday, 21 Mar 2016 09:40 AM

President Barack Obama arrived in Cuba on Sunday, becoming the first U.S. president to visit the island nation since 1928.

Obama, first lady Michelle, and the couple's two daughters were greeted at the Havana airport by Bruno Rodríguez, Cuba's foreign minister; Josefina Vidal, the head of the U.S. section of Cuba's Foreign Ministry; and Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the senior U.S. diplomat in Cuba, The Washington Post reported.

The absence of Cuban president Raúl Castro was criticized by Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump in a tweet.



Obama is reportedly scheduled to meet with Castro Monday at the Cuban presidential palace.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who trails Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, criticized the Obama trip in a Politico article.

"The White House keeps saying that this trip will chart a new course for people-to-people relations, but all that Obama's appeasement of the Castro dictatorship has done so far is create a channel for inside deals between large corporations and the Cuban military, which holds all the keys to the island’s economy," Cruz said.

"The effect will not be liberalization but rather the institutionalization of the Communist dictatorship as the profits from this détente will line the pockets not only of Fidel and Raul Castro, but also of Raul’s son, Alejandro Castro Espin," he continued.

Jose Daniel Ferrer, a Cuban dissident who was imprisoned for eight years, told CNN on Sunday that even small changes will help Cuban citizens who have long been politically oppressed.

"Obama's visit is good for the people and good for the cause," Ferrer said.

In December 2014, Obama announced he was working to reopen long-frozen diplomatic ties to Cuba, highlighting the release of Alan Gross, an American prisoner in Cuba, in exchange for Cubans held in American jails.

Last week, officials announced that Cubans could now open U.S. bank accounts and that Americans are permitted to travel to the island individually rather than as a group for educational or cultural reasons.

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President Barack Obama arrived in Cuba on Sunday, becoming the first U.S. president to visit the island nation since 1928.
obama, cuba
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2016-40-21
Monday, 21 Mar 2016 09:40 AM
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