Malia And Sasha Obama Visit Cuba

Malia and Sasha Obama have been staunchly protected from too much public scrutiny during their seven years in the White House. But this week in Cuba, they will bear witness to what their dad, President Barack Obama, is calling, “An Historic Event.”

Malia, 17, and Sasha, 14, recently made headlines when they attended a state dinner featuring the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. The Richmond Press noted that ABC Network News anchor Kristen Sze made much of their designer gowns, dubbing them “too expensive for such young girls.” The article noted how the girls were “star struck” over an encounter with actor Ryan Reynolds. Despite the criticism of a few, Malia and Sasha’s appearance was generally touted by the media as “all grown up,” as a cheek-pinching distant relative might describe nieces not seen in years. It illustrates just how much the first daughters have been shielded from the public eye, presumably to give them as normal a life as possible.

The New York Times today pointed out that the girls do join their father on trips abroad, if the trip has some educational value, and their school schedule will permit it. The trip to Cuba has both: their father will meet with Raul Castro, and mark the first U.S. presidential visit in 88 years. He will give an internationally televised speech about the event.

Cuba is considered a “spring break” for Malia and Sasha. They will tour Old Havana, which was founded by the Spanish in 1519, a port for treasure-laden galleons. It’s a city still graced with magnificent architecture, churches, and museums, but a place few Americans have the privilege to visit. People indicated that one of their stops will include the Havana Cathedral, where they will meet Cardinal Ortega. The White House indicated that this was an important connection.

“And so that will also provide the opportunity to mark the important role of the Catholic Church in the lives of the Cuban people, and in the increasing relations between our two countries.”

One focus of President Obama’s visit will be to address the issue of human rights. As an Inquisitr article stated earlier today, a group of over 50 women were arrested when they held a demonstration near a church, shortly before the Obamas arrived. The group, called the Ladies In White, was hoping to be noticed by some of the international media.

Obama is scheduled to meet with some human rights groups on Tuesday. He posted on Twitter that he hoped the trip to Cuba would advance “progress and efforts that can improve the lives of Cuban people.”

“We still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly. America will always stand for human rights around the world.”

Michelle Obama will meet with high-school aged Cuban girls as part of her “Let Girls Learn” initiative.

After Cuba, the first lady will also discuss the initiative in Argentina, where the family will travel later in the week. They will meet with the country’s new president, Mauricio Macri, in Buenos Aires. They will spend Thursday afternoon in Bariloche, a scenic alpine town at the foot of the Andes mountains.

As the New York Times noted, it may be that the girls realize the clock is ticking when it comes to presidential international travel.

“Like their father, Sasha and Malia Obama may also be particularly motivated to take advantage of the perks of the White House during Mr. Obama’s final year in office.”

One has to wonder how much of history is explained to youngsters. As Air Force One touched down in Cuba this afternoon, USA Today pointed out that it was on “the same runway that the CIA once bombed in the 1960’s.”

But when Malia and Sasha crossed the tarmac with their parents, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez greeted them all warmly in the light rain and presented the girls with flowers.

[Image via AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais]