Obama to Address Cubans from Havana’s Grand Theater

By Beatriz Juez

The Havana Grand Theater is the venue from which US President Obama will address the Cuban people on Tuesday March 22. Photo: Ismael Francisco/cubadebate
The Havana Grand Theater is the venue from which US President Obama will address the Cuban people on Tuesday March 22. Photo: Ismael Francisco/cubadebate

HAVANA TIMES — President Barack Obama will deliver a speech Tuesday at the Havana Grand Theater as part of his historic visit to Cuba, informed the White House on Wednesday.

The US government expects the intervention to be broadcast by Cuban state television, reported dpa news.

“This will be a speech to the Cuban people. Cubans want to hear what the president has to say,” said Ben Rhodes, adviser to the White House who took part in the secret talks that led to rapprochement between the two countries. He said that the Cuban Government has thus far voiced no objection to televising the address.

Obama will arrive on Sunday to Havana for a three-day visit to the island, considered a milestone, eight months after the formal resumption of diplomatic relations.

The president will be accompanied by his wife, Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia and Michelle’s mother, Marian Robinson. The trip is the first by a US president to Cuba in 88 years.

Besides his talks with President Raul Castro, Obama’s agenda includes meeting with political dissidents, assured the White House. The names of the opponents who will attend the encounter with Obama have not been released.

“The president’s visit is an important step forward in the normalization of relations between the US and Cuba,” said the charge d’affaires of the US embassy in Havana, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, in a telephone conversation with journalists. “It marks the beginning of a new era between our two countries and our two peoples,” the diplomat added.

The Obama Program for March 20-22

Obama will arrive in Cuba on Sunday afternoon, March 20th. The meeting with Raul Castro is scheduled for Monday. The White House denied that the US president will visit former President Fidel Castro.

“He will not meet with Fidel Castro. Neither we nor the Cubans have sought this meeting. He will meet with Raul Castro, who is the president of Cuba,” said Rhodes.

Obama will attend the Tampa Bay - Team Cuba game at the Latinoamericano Stadium.
Obama will attend the Tampa Bay – Team Cuba game at the Latinoamericano Stadium. Foto: Juan Suarez

Another highlight of Obama’s visit to Cuba will be an exhibition baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team on Tuesday, which the president will attend.

“Baseball is something that Americans and Cubans share and is part of our cultural heritage and, frankly, it’s the kind of exchanges that we seek,” said Rhodes.

The president will begin his visit on Sunday with a walk through Old Havana, where he will visit the Cathedral. He will meet with Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who supported pope Francis who mediated the secret negotiations that led to the surprise diplomatic thaw between Washington and Havana in December 2014.

The official events begin on Monday. Obama will meet with Raul Castro after depositing a wreath at the statue of Cuban national hero Jose Marti in the Plaza of the Revolution, as is customary in diplomatic protocol.

The meeting between Castro and Obama will serve to “review the progress made in the normalization of relations, addressing the areas where our governments have been able to initiate bilateral cooperation of our mutual interest and be very candid about the areas where there are disagreements, including human rights, “said the Obama adviser.

The president will also hold a meeting on Monday with young Cuban entrepreneurs. The White House has said repeatedly that its new policy of dialogue aims to support the emerging private sector on the island. In recent years, the government of Raul Castro has opened limited spaces for private initiative, after decades of state monopoly.

On Monday night Obama is invited to a state dinner at the Palace of the Revolution.

Obama’s address to Cubans is scheduled for Tuesday at the recently restored Gran Teatro de La Habana in the center of the Cuban capital. The White House considers the speech a key moment of the visit.

Obama will address “the complicated history between the two countries and the reasons that led to take the steps we take, especially that of December 17 (2014),” said Rhodes.

The president will also present his ideas on how the United States and Cuba “can work together and how Cubans can achieve a better life.” After the speech Obams is scheduled to meeting with a group of dissidents.

Upon concluding his visit to Cuba, Obama will travel to Buenos Aires for an official visit to Argentina on March 23-24.

Obama is the first president (in office) of the United States to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. Former president James Carter visited the island twice in 2002 and 2011.

Washington and Havana resumed diplomatic relations in July, 2015. The official ties were broken off in 1961, two years after the triumph of the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.

13 thoughts on “Obama to Address Cubans from Havana’s Grand Theater

  • This is nothing new. Ex President Jimmy Carter’s speech was broadcast live / unedited / uncensored. It wasn’t that significant.

  • Reread my comment. I said nothing about success, you did. But since you brought it up, if economic success is not your cup of tea, then what is? What other measure of success can Cuba boast about?

  • Moses, you just proved my point…because you always equate success to money. That’s typical of your culture, but not entirely accurate.

  • Have you heard Raul give a speech? Watching grass grow is more exciting.

  • The US has the most robust economy in the world at this moment. A backward country of 11 million poor Cubans isn’t much help. But if it makes you sleep better at night believing that the US economy, 1000X bigger than the Cuban economy, needs Cuba, I won’t spoil your nocturnal fantasies.

  • Take the POTUS to the twisted rudder in the street in front of the Terminal La Cubre. Take him to the burned out Restuarant Moscu. Take him to the park by El Encanto. Let’s see if he has any clue whatsoever that he is standing before relics of America’s terror campaign against Cuba. Cubans don’t need to hear empty platitudes from the head of the Empire. Americans, to the contrary, could certainly learn some history that they never got in school if Raul were permitted to address them on TV.

  • Moses, as you put it… the U.S. does not need Cuba. I beg to differ… the U.S. needs all the help it can get!

  • …I’m curious as to how the “translation” will play out on Cuban TV.

  • To be very clear, I hate the Castros and I support the Cuban people. It is simply not true to project the notion that Obama and Raul are meeting as equals. The US does not need Cuba. Cuba needs the US. Ergo “crap”. The officials who take orders from the Castros are indeed minions. Look up the word. In as much as we have now been told that Obama’s speech will not be previewed, my comment regarding the “measly” censors is irrelevant. A strong nation coming to the defense of a weak people who are oppressed by a strong dictatorship is a better depiction of the US relationship to Cuba. I agree with you that “self-serving” foreigners should have no role in charting Cuba’s future.

  • Moses, your imperialist views always foreshadow a tyrant’s boot gleefully situated on the neck of a helpless victim as you use terms such as “measly” and “crap” to belittle innocent victims while you toss in demeaning depictions of the Office of President of the United States with such gutless phrases as “even Obama.” As you hide behind the skirts of the world superpower, Moses, tell us all about how sweet and kind the Batista-Mafia “minions” were in what you envision as the Good Old Days in Cuba. Lamenting the “extra million tourists” that will follow Obama to Cuba reflects your obvious disdain for how that many extra visitors would help the Cuban people. Anyone who disparages the kind overtures President Obama is making to the Cuban people clearly cares NOT A WHIT about the damage a Batistiano-Mafiosi Cuban policy casts on the United States and on democracy. A strong nation punishing people in a weak nation decade after decade is not exactly what the Founding Fathers envisioned for their democracy. Cubans on the island should navigate the post-Castro future of Cuba, not self-serving foreigners cowardly tossing grenades across the Florida Straits.

  • To allow this closed society to broadcast this address by the President of the US is great news.

  • Griffin, I refuse to believe that the President of the United States would submit his speech to measly Cuban sensors. It’s one thing to play along with the whole “meet as equals” crap. But allowing a group of overfed socialists to censor his remarks? Even Obama would not permit this. I DO believe that Obama will be measured in his criticism. Despite the disrespectful and even racist comments a handful of backwater Republican Congressmen have made, he never stooped to respond in kind. As to your other concern that his speech would be time-delayed and edited, I hope that Castro minions try to pull off something that stupid. The uncut version of his speech will be on the street in Cuba before he gets out of the theater. Raul will just have to sit there with that shifty grin on his face. It’s a small price to pay for the extra million tourists that will flock to Cuba after Obama leaves.

  • Will the speech be broadcasted live, in whole & uninterrupted but the Cuban state censors? Has Obama been obliged to have his speech pre-approved by the Castro regime? Who will be allowed in the audience at the Grand Theatre?

Comments are closed.