Monday, March 21, 2016

HISTORY MAKING VISIT: Obama First US President To Visit Cuba In 88 Years

President Barack Obama and his family tour Old Havana

Yesterday President Obama landed in Havana at 4:20 p.m. aboard Air Force One. This makes him the first American president to touch Cuban soil in almost 90 years. The last President to visit Cuba was Calvin Coolidge in 1928. He arrived aboard a battleship.

Besides having major symbolic significance as the the historic three-day trip will help the U.S. and Cuba reestablish diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between the two countries. 

Obama is joined by First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, Malia, and Sasha.

Raul Castro will meet with President Obama on Monday at the Palace of the Revolution.

In addition to the meeting with Castro, Obama’s itinerary includes a sitdown with dissidents.


The President said of the trip...

This is a historic visit, and it’s a historic opportunity to engage with the Cuban people. Every day you’re bringing the U.S. and Cuba closer together.

In Cuba’s capital  American flags were hoisted alongside Cuban flags — an improbable sight for those who lived through a half-century in which the two countries were bitter foes. 


Other signs of the thawing between the two countries ahead of the visit include the lifting of restrictions on Cuba, easing travel prohibitions and restoring Cuba’s access to the global financial system. Cuba, meanwhile, announced plans to lift a 10% conversion fee on U.S. dollars. In addition the U.S. chain Starwood signed a deal to renovate and run three Cuban hotels, returning American hotels to the island more than 50 years after Fidel Castro’s revolution.


One of the biggest obstacles to full restoration of ties is the U.S. trade embargo which remains in place and Congress has refused to lift it.

Supporters of closer relations between the two countries say the embargo will result in U.S. businesses losing to competitors overseas.

It was not all sunshine and happiness as nearly 50 protesters demanding improved human rights conditions were arrested ahead of Obama’s visit. The demonstrators, from a group called Ladies in White, hold a similar protest each week.


OBAMA'S ITINERARY IN CUBA:

MONDAY

- Wreath-laying at the Jose Marti Memorial, morning
- Official welcoming ceremony, Palace of the Revolution, morning
- Meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro, morning
- Entrepreneurship summit, afternoon
- State Dinner at the Palace of the Revolution, evening

TUESDAY

- Address to the Cuban people at El Gran Teatro de Havana, morning
- Meeting with dissidents and civil society leaders, morning
- Baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Cuban national team at Estadio Latinoamericano, 2 p.m.
- Departure from Jose Marti International Airport en route to Buenos Aires, afternoon

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