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President Obama Arrives In Cuba


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President Obama touched down in Havana yesterday on what is a truly historic visit to the communist island. He arrived with his wife Michelle and his daughters as well as a bipartisan group of senators and other government officials. He was given a tour of Havana’s historic areas, which have been newly spruced up for his visit, by Cuban officials. Today he met with president Raul Castro for a series of bilateral talks about how far they have come and what the need to do to open more. Tonight he will be treated to a state dinner. But tomorrow, Tuesday, is the crucial day of his visit. Obama is set to meet with political dissidents and people for a civil society. Obama will later give a speech directly to the Cuban people. It is expected that he will bring the full force of his oratory.

Earlier yesterday, before Obama landed, the Cuban government arrested several members of the dissident group The Ladies in White. This type of harassment is par for the course. It shows that the Cuban government still has a long way to go before it is anywhere near where they need to be as far as human rights and free speech are concerned. One can also see it another way. This is the last desperate attempts by a system that is in trouble to maintain control. Raul Castro knows that the way they have done things for 60 years can’t be maintained.

I for one am part of the growing number of Cuban-Americans, (especially those under 50), that are for engagement with Cuba. The fact of the matter is, (and what folks like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and my great-aunts don’t understand), that isolating Cuba for 60 years has not toppled the government or improved the lot of the Cuban people. Quite the opposite in fact. Why on Earth would we continue this failed policy? The fact of the matter is that the Castros have used our embargo as an excuse for all their problems and as a way to gain sympathy with the rest of the world. President Obama is taking a risk, that’s for sure. But isn’t it worth it to at least try to do something different?

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