Obama Sets a Date for His Cuba Trip: March 21-22

When Cuba Was a Tropical Playground. Photo: Juan Suarez
When Cuba Was a Tropical Playground. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Barack Obama and his wife Michelle will travel to Cuba on March 21-22 on the first visit by a US president to the island in nearly 90 years, the White House announced today, reported dpa news.

The president will then travel to Argentina, where he will be on March 23-24.

In Cuba, Obama will promote the normalization of relations began in late 2014 with the deepening of the commercial and personal links to help improve the welfare of the Cuban people, notes the White House.

Obama will meet with his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, as well as business people and members of civil society from different sectors. No mention was made on whether he would pay a visit to former leader Fidel Castro.

In Buenos Aires he will meet with Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri, to discuss his reform agenda and recognize his “contributions to the defense of human rights” in the region.

Obama hopes to expand cooperation between the US and Argentine governments on a wide range of areas such as trade, investment, renewable energy, climate change and public safety. It has been nearly 20 years since the last visit by a US president to Argentina when Bill Clinton was there in 1997.

A little after 9 a.m. on Thursday (Feb. 18) President Obama made official what had been reported widely the previous day. Using Twitter, the president announced: “We still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly. America will always stand for human rights around the world.” Seconds later a second twit said: “Next month, I’ll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people,” reported Progreso Weekly.

20 thoughts on “Obama Sets a Date for His Cuba Trip: March 21-22

  • Can’t disagree with any of the comments I’ve read. We had a beautiful visit to Cuba last year with Smithsonian as our chaperones, very much time spent meeting folks and learning about Cuba, not nearly enough tie on the beach and enjoying the rum. But it was all good. We came away understanding the tragedy that the US has visited upon Cuba when we should have been brothers.

  • You are probably right about being stuck. I claim the chicken status which makes you the egg. The egg needs the chicken for protection and warmth. The chicken is just fine without the egg.

  • No. I’m saying that a great deal of what is happening in Cuba can be directly blamed on your government’s insane interventionist policies. Moses, I think you and I will always be stuck in that proverbial “chicken or the egg” proverb when it comes to realizing what will be the catalyst for real change in Cuba. Romeo y Julieta Coronitas en Cedro do if for me… mucho mas suabe.

  • Then you admit that what happens in Cuba is less important to
    you than being able to blame it all on the US. Is that about right? I would like that Cohiba though. My preference is the Esplendido.

  • “What is clear to me is that your comments reflect a more anti-US than pro-Cuba tone.”

    You think??? Give the man a Cohiba. My anti-US tone only exists because of your government’s insane interventionist policies that still remain directed towards Cuba. Remove them…all of them…and my tone will completely change. I’m sure that the Cuban government’s tone will completely change towards the US government as well.

  • What is clear to me is that your comments reflect a more anti-US than pro-Cuba tone. Try reading the next post regarding a conversation between 2 flies at a Cuban butcher shop. Or simply browse the recent post about the thousands of Cubans fleeing Cuba still stuck in Costa Rica. You can speak fondly for a Cuba that exists only in your mind in your thinly-veiled effort to bash the US, but on the ground in Cuba, real people are suffering. If you are Antonio Castro, the Ferrari driving youngest son of the former dictatorship, Cuba is a wonderful country. But for most of the 11 million other Cubans who remain on the island, Cuba is a horrible place to live because of its poverty and lack of freedom.

  • Oh! The drama! Cuba is not a hell-hole, and you know it. It’s only your twisted mind that’s a hell-hole, because you still believe that you and your government have the God given right to divine intervention in Cuba. Raul owes Obama nothing. It’s the U.S. that owes Cuba everything for their deplorable treatment of Cuba over the past 5 decades. Give your head a shake and lose that sense of arrogant entitlement. That’s what got your government into this mess with Cuba in the first place.

  • Bob, with all due respect, I’m not sure that you’re looking at the situation with a completely open and unbiased mind. Remember, it’s not Cuba that has maintained an economic embargo on the U.S. for some 50+ years… it’s not Cuba that maintains the Helms-Burton Act against the U.S… it’s not Cuba that maintains the Cuban Adjustment Act and the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program to brain-drain Cuba… it’s not Cuba that illegally maintains a piece of American territory and refuses to give it back. But it IS your American government that is continuing to maintain all of these destabilizing and interventionist policies set against Cuba. In all fairness, your American government has no right to make demands of Cuba until the playing field has been completely leveled. To believe otherwise only serves to once again reinforce your government’s arrogance in relation to Cuba, where by they say jump, and are expecting the Cuban government to say… how high? Cuba doesn’t “owe” America a thing. If you truly believe that Cuba owes America something as well…then you’re right, that die-hard attitude will only help to stall the rapprochement process, and once again, the U.S. will be held accountable by the world for maintaining their repressive interventionist policies towards Cuba that do nothing but hurt the Cuban people.

  • I see this visit as Obama’s hidden ultimatum of “Raul, shit or get off the pot”. To date, the US has proactively made 4 concessions. While they were not significant individually, each time Cuba has made no reciprocal concessions and only reply “end the embargo” or “give us back Guantanamo”. I believe if Cuba does not respond with something significant to Obama’s visit, it will be the end of the game and the situation that has existed for 55 years will continue for a long long time.

    I am unfortunately much less optimistic about resolving the historical problems than I was 15 months ago. Raul seems more beholden to the old time hard liners than a diplomatic resolution. Sadly, I am beginning to see merit in the argument of those who contend Raul needs to continue the political conflict in order to maintain power and as an excuse for dismal economic performance. I am hoping I am wrong.

  • It will be a photo-op for Raul. But Griffin, the things that the US wants from Cuba like free elections, private media, freed political prisoners and open markets are, shamefully, not likely to come quickly. I can only hope that Obama, who can speak so eloquently, will speak to what Cuba must do to rejoin the civilized world, in an open and public fashion. Closed-door meetings with Raul are worthless. I hope he includes giving his message directly to the Cuban people as a part of his trip. That could hopefully trigger an internal movement as never before. Then again, I could be deluding myself and Obama will come and go and Cuba will continue to be the poster-child as to how to turn a paradise into a hell-hole.

  • If Obama goes to Havana, gives Raul a photo-op, and gets nothing in return for human rights and democracy in Cuba, then his successor will indeed have a very useful excuse to reverse at least some of his ill-considered Cuba policy.

    There’s still not enough support in congress for repealing Helms-Burton, and in an election year Cruz & Rubio will fight tooth and nail to block any such attempt. Contrary to Ciderman’s comment above, this is not a strictly Republican vs Democrat issue. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) opposes Obama’s plan to visit Cuba. Some Republicans support Obama’s Cuba policy.

  • One thing we have in common Moses is our love for politics. It’s in our family and my blood as well. Been involved since I was 8 and still amazes me. Obama’s trip to Cuba will cement the end of embargo, in my opinion. Yes, an election year, but the momentum, politically, is swinging towards a favorable opinion of Cuba. By the way, when this nonsense in Cuba ends and the expat’s who I have more in common with than most folk, come back to their homeland, the political fervor will be off the wall. You talk about politics? They control a good portion of the electoral vote in two major states!

  • The tip-off for me that something big was about to happen was when I saw the many New York Times articles issued in support of Cuba proceeding Obama’s announcement by 3 or 4 weeks. The White House often uses the New York Times to subliminally soften the masses and tweak their proposed position before making significant controversial announcements regarding changes to U.S. foreign policy.

    bjmack, you need to get to Cuba pronto! But go after Obama’s visit… there won’t be a hotel room or casa available anywhere in Habana during that week. 😉

  • At this point, given the momentum that is building, repealing the Helms-Burton Act before year’s end would not surprise me. On the other hand, when was the last time this Congress has passed a major piece of legislation? Keep in mind this is a presidential election year.

  • Wish you didn’t mention Raul’s grandson but totally agree. This will certainly be a major event. By the way, I wrote in July, 2015, a major announcement was forthcoming before the end of 2015, well I was a few weeks off. Pretty much knew Obama would make the announcement but thought it would be in December. The embargo, by the way, is going to be a thing of the past before end of year. I’m pretty sure you agree.

  • Obama and the Stones. March 21st will be a big day.

  • Obama’s political strategy with Cuba is not the one I would have chosen BUT if ‘kill them with kindness’ works it’s worth a try in Cuba. Besides, after making this visit, Obama also makes it nearly impossible for the next President to reverse his strategy without a very good reason. It’s going to be quite the spectacle. Air Force One on the tarmac at Jose Marti Int’l. The Presidential motorcade pulling into Revolution Plaza. US Secret Service toe-to-toe with Raul Castro’s grandson. Hahaha! This is going to be quite a show!

  • Obama can finally visit Cuba, because the U.S. has been taken off Cuba’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. I hope the Cubans aren’t being naive.

  • Republicans fume at the visit, citing the insult of a sitting american president visiting a country with, what they feel is, a history of oppressing their own people, while feeling just fine with doing business with the Saudis, in Vietman, with China and Russia, not to mention countless despots all over the world throughout the 20th and into the 21st century. Good luck the the Cuban people I say, and good luck to the future, whatever political system they choose to be governed by, surely that’s their own business.

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