After 88 long years, a US president has finally set foot in the communist nation Cuba, ending nearly a century of indifference and cold treatment. US President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba marks a new era of US-Cuban ties, leaving behind a rather problematic relations between the two nations in the Americas.
On Sunday, the Air Force One (the official aircraft of a US president) for the first time has landed in Cuba. This signals a new era of diplomatic ties between the US and Cuba, a tie that was severed by clashing ideologies and policies between the two countries’ past leaders. It only took Obama three hours to fly from Washington to the Cuban Capital, Havana. But it took nearly nine decades before another US president visited Cuba in a state visit.
On Monday, Obama is set to meet Cuban President Raul Castro, brother of Cuba’s former president and revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro. According to an official statement from the White House, Obama’s historic visit to Cuba is a result of an effort to finally put an end in the decades of indifference toward the Latin country.
An effort, which, according to an official statement from the White House, had the support of no less than Pope Francis himself. It was reported that before the White House officially announced that Obama’s going on a two-day state visit to Cuba, a series of “secret negotiations” were held in Canada. According to the statement, the negotiations were attended by Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for the part of the US and other foreign attachés of Cuba.
“Since then, we have made progress in opening up relations between our two countries. Last summer, we restored diplomatic relations and Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Cuba to raise the American flag over our Embassy. This enhanced diplomatic presence makes it much easier for the United States to advance our interests and values in Cuba, as we do in countries around the world,” the statement reads.
It can be recalled that for decades, Fidel Castro has been vocal in opposing salient points of the US policies. However, a 2009 report from the Telegraph shows that the former Cuban leader lauded Obama’s effort in easing travel ban on US families to Cuba. Although Castro reportedly said that Obama has to do more, many political observers said it’s a good sign that US-Cuba relations are getting much better.
In Obama’s two-day state visit to Cuba, among the things the two leaders will discuss include economic and diplomatic policies between the two nations. The White House likewise confirmed that Obama is not scheduled to meet with Fidel as of this posting.
The last US president who visited Cuba was former President Calvin Coolidge in 1928 via the American battleship Texas to address the Pan-American Conference on Jan 15, 1928, the New York Times reports.