New era in Cuba-US relations marked by Obama visit

By Sarah Harvey

U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle exit Air Force One at Havana's airport. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa
U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle exit Air Force One at Havana's airport. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa
Today marked the first visit by a US president to Cuba in 88 years.

A new era in United States and Cuba relations was heralded with a visit by President Barack Obama to the island nation.

Obama was the first sitting US president to visit Cuba since 1928. He spent time at the reopened US embassy in Havana an occasion he called “historic”. He also met with President Raul Castro to discuss trade and political reform, but not retired revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.

People gather beside the U.S. embassy in Havana as they wait for the arrival of the U.S. President Barack Obama. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
People gather beside the U.S. embassy in Havana as they wait for the arrival of the U.S. President Barack Obama. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

 

“Back in 1928,” Obama said, “President [Calvin] Coolidge came on a battleship. It took him three days to get here, it only took me three hours. For the first time ever, Air Force One has landed in Cuba and this is our very first stop.” He added the trip was a chance to for him to lay out a “vision for a future that is brighter than our past”.

The tour was meant to see Obama, his wife Michelle, two daughters and mother-in-law, interacting with ordinary Cubans on the streets, but this part of the itinerary was marred by a tropical storm.

The government hoped the two-day visit will allow it to reap benefits without ceding control to the US, while dissidents on the island wanted it to speed the pace of change.

 

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