- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 23 March 2016
- Written by JASMINE RAMOS | POLITICS CO-EDITOR
President Barack Obama created history on March 20, by visiting Cuba for the first time any president has in over nine decades. He arrived with First lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters Malia and Sasha.
“I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas,” Obama said in a speech at the Havana’s Grand Theater, the same building where President Calvin Coolidge spoke 88 years ago.
But many have questioned his intentions on this trip. While there, he is going to be meeting with President Raul Castro, as well as Cuban dissidents. He will also attend a baseball game against the Cuban national team and Tampa Bay Rays, as well as do a television address for Cuban citizens.
The White House said that Obama will raise the problem of Human Right violations, while speaking to President Castro and have a separate meeting with human right activists.
This is extremely historical for many since there has been a trade embargo on Cuba for almost half a century. The Obama administration has been trying to chip away at it for over a 15-month period, with more travel leeway, have access to direct mail, and more importantly, the U.S. struck Cuba from the “State Sponsors of Terror” list.
“The Cold War has been over for a long time,” Obama said in Panama last year. “I’m not interested in having battles that, frankly, started before I was born.”
Ann Louise Bardach, a journalist that has been covering Cuban-America politics for over two decades explains that there needs to be a lot more done for the relationships between the two countries to heal. “There still remains this massively oppressive bureaucracy and nothing involving the U.S. embargo is going to change that. Those are institutional changes that Raul Castro is going to have to muster the courage to do. And he’s going to get flak from the históricos.”
Many Cuban citizens have been protesting on the days leading up to the event, and many have been put on house arrest until further notice. According to CNN, more than 50 protesters have been arrested hours before Obama landed.
No official explanation has yet been offered by the Buban authorities.
One of the biggest demonstrations before Obama’s visit was led by the Ladies in White (Las Damas en Blano), who have been holding silent demonstrations since 2003. On Sunday, they decided to take a different route where they encountered two counter demonstrations causing arrests.
Angela Faith, third year political science major, said, “I think the trip shows the tremendous progress the two nations have made coming together and it shows that the future that the nations have together and things can only get better from here.”
Natorye Miller, third year communication major mentions, “I think the sanctions on Cuba are very outdated and another method of dealing with this situation should be considered. I am glad that Obama is working hard for the Cubans to gain some rights back, and it will be interesting to see this develop throughout the final months of Obama’s administration
Many of the presidential candidates have disagreed with Obama’s trip. Former Ohio Governor John Katich said, ”I just think, it’s too much we give and they take, and I would like to see them give.” Businessman Donald Trump tweeted, “Wow, President Obama just landed in Cuba, a big deal, and Raul Castro wasn’t even there to greet him. He greeted Pope and others. No respect.”
Presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, is the only Cuban-American candidate left for the republican party, since Marco Rubio dropped. He wrote an opinion article for Politico, which said freedom cannot come to Cuba “by enriching and empowering the dictatorship, while they export terrorism to Latin America.”
Both Democratic presidential candidates have supported the cause. Bernie Sanders tweeted, “I applaud President Obama for traveling to Cuba and moving relations between our two countries into a new era.”
IMAGE TAKEN from twitter.com/flotus