U.S. President Barack Obama will reportedly visit Cuba next month, according to multiple diplomatic sources. While the details of the trip are still unconfirmed, the President’s travel plans are expected to be officially announced by the White House on Thursday.
If the reports of Obama’s trip to Cuba are true, then this will be the first state visit to the communist nation by an American Chief Executive since 1928, when President Calvin Coolidge went there.
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) February 18, 2016
During that time, Joseph Stalin was running the Soviet Communist Party, and Benito Mussolini was ruling over Italy.
There has also been a diplomatic feud between the United States and Cuba since the late 1950’s following the overthrow of the Batista regime, and the violent rise to power of the pro-Soviet dictator, Fidel Castro. Since then, it appeared that Cuba would remain a distant adversary of the U.S., in spite of the fact that island nation is just a short distance from Florida.
However, that changed when Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro have decided to normalize the relations between the two countries on December 17, 2014. The two nations took a step further by restoring diplomatic ties in July of last year.
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 18, 2016
The US and Cuban embassies also reopened last summer as proof that the two countries are indeed serious about rebuilding a friendly relationship.
By that time, there were already rumors that President Obama would make a trip to Cuba before his term ended. However, in a December interview, Obama said that he would visit Cuba if the time and conditions are right.
“I am very much interested in going to Cuba, but I think the conditions have to be right,” the President said in an interview. “If I go on a visit, then part of the deal is that I get to talk to everybody.”
President Obama Discusses Cuba In Interview With ABC
The improved relationship between the two countries has already showed some results. American travelers to the Latin American island nation are now offered various travel licenses, including trips for cultural exchanges and humanitarian work.
Last week, air carriers also fought a bidding war to claim the first direct route from the United States to Cuba in decades. In addition, the economic and trade embargo has also loosened between the two countries. Tourism, which has been long abandoned by both countries, is now a potential boost for Cuba’s economy.
However, as far as Republicans and conservative politicians are concerned, the planned visit to Cuba is a big mistake. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, in his statement during the GOP town hall on Wednesday night, said that Obama should only visit countries like Cuba if it were a “free Cuba.” Rubio added that Cuba’s repressive government is an “anti-American communist dictatorship,” which goes against the principals and beliefs of the United States and her people.
Another presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, whose father emigrated from Cuba, said that Obama’s move is a mistake. Instead of visiting the nation, and restoring diplomatic relations, he should be pushing for a free Cuba. “My family has seen firsthand the evil and the oppression in Cuba. We need a president who stands up to our enemies,” Cruz added.
Presidential Candidate Marc Rubio Opposes Obama’s Planned Visit To Cuba
President Obama will arrive in Cuba on March 21, which is part of a week that features a number of activities and events in the capital city of Havana.
A day before Obama arrives in Cuba, the Rolling Stones will end their Latin American tour in Havana. On March 22, there will also be a baseball game between the country’s national baseball team and the Tampa Bay Rays.
President Barack Obama earlier said that restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba may enable the U.S. to “nudge the Cuban government in a new direction.”
[Image by Pool, Getty Images]