Barack Obama Tours Old Havana: First American President to set foot in Cuba for NINE DECADES
US President Barack Obama was greeted by top Cuban officials but not President Raul Castro.
For the first time in NINE DECADES any US-President set foot in Cuba on Sunday. U.S. President Barack Obama, along with First Lady Michelle Obama and their children, walked on the streets of Old Havana Sunday as a part of a historic three-day trip to Cuba.
Obama is eager to push decades of wormwood deeper into the past and forges irreversible ties with America’s former adversary.
“This is a historic visit and a historic opportunity,” Obama said as he greeted staff of the new US Embassy in Havana.
Obama was welcomed by top Cuban officials but not by Cuban President Raul Castro. The Cuban leader repeatedly greets major world celebrities upon their arrival at Jose Marti International Airport but was absent on this occasion. Instead, he planned to welcome on Monday at the Palace of the Revolt.
Obama’ trip sets an over welcoming and historic moment in his and Castro’s ambitious effort to restore good relations between the two countries. While deep differences exist, the economic and political relationship has changed rapidly in the last 15 months since the leaders take an oath for a new beginning.
After greeting the embassy staff, Obama and his family toured Old Havana by foot, despite a heavy torrent. They walked mousey on the fragile wet stones in front of the Havana Cathedral. About some hundreds, people gathered in the square erupted in applause and shouted Obama’s name as the first family stepped forward.
The Obamas stays at a private restaurant in a bustling, working-class neighborhood. Huge crowds surged toward the president’s heavily fortified gesture as it inched through the San Cristobal restaurant. For more than 50 years, Cuba was an unimaginable and far-reaching destination for a US president, as well as most American citizens.
The US served diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 after Fidel Castro’s revolution sparked fears of communism spreading to the Western Hemisphere. Domestic politics in both countries contributed to the continued separation well after the Cold War ended.
A highlight of Obama’s visit comes Tuesday when he joins Castro and a crowd of baseball-crazed Cubans for a game between the beloved national team and Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays.
The president also planned a speech for the Cuban people at the Grand Theater of Havana laying out his vision for greater freedoms and more economic opportunity in Cuba. After the two years taking power in 2008, Castro launched many social and economic policies that are showing slow-moving to many Cubans and foreigners but are permanent and widespread in the Cuba’s society.
The Cuban government has been unavoidable, however, on making changes to its single-party political system and to the strict limits on media, public speech, assembly and dissent. He will spend some time talking with Cuban rebels.
The White House said such a meeting was a prerequisite need for the visit. But there were no expectations that he would leave Cuba with important obligations from the government to address Washington’s human rights concerns.
A major stress for Obama was pushing his Cuba policy to the point it will be all so as to make it impossible for the next president to reverse it. That’s why highlighting new business deals by American firms, including hotel chains Starwood and Marriott and online portal service Airbnb.