President Obama to Make Historic Visit to Cuba, U.S. Official Says
by RON ALLEN and ALEX JOHNSON
President Barack Obama will visit Cuba in the coming weeks, a senior
administration official told NBC News on Wednesday night.
The trip will mark an historic end to more than a half-century of
official estrangement between the Cold War rivals.
The official said details would be announced Thursday as part of a
larger tour by Obama of Latin America.
Plans for Obama’s visit could also coincide with a trip by a Major
League Baseball team, given the island’s passion for the sport.
Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced in December 2014 that
they would normalize relations after decades of broken ties. A year
later, Obama said he would consider visiting Cuba if there was evidence
of significant improvements in civil liberties.
Obama and Castro met last April in Panama in the first official meeting
of the leaders of the two nations since the United States cut diplomatic
relations in 1961 after Castro’s brother, Fidel Castro, seized power.
The last sitting president to visit the island was Calvin Coolidge, who
addressed the Pan-American Conference of Western Hemisphere leaders in
Havana in 1928.
Cuban officials are concerned that the executive actions taken by
President Obama to normalize relations could be reversed next year,
given the opposition of leading Republican presidential candidates to
restoring ties with Cuba.
At a Republican presidential campaign forum in Greenville, South
Carolina, on Wednesday night, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida criticized
reports of Obama’s plans, calling Castro’s government “an anti-American
Asked whether he would ever visit Cuba as president, Rubio — whose
parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1956 — said, “Not
if it’s not a free Cuba.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, whose father was born in Cuba and was granted
political asylum in the United States, said he was “saddened” by the
news and vowed never to visit the country “as long as Castro is in power.”
Source: President Obama to Make Historic Visit to Cuba, U.S. Official
Says – NBC News –