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President Obama To Visit Cuba

President Obama will be taking the unprecedented move of visiting Havana March 21-22. He will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit the island since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. He made the announcement yesterday via Twitter and through a press release. This is just the latest step in the thaw in relations that Obama began with Cuban president Raul Castro back in December of 2014. The two Cold War rivals have been antagonists since Fidel Castro took power in January 1959. The thaw in relations is held back by the U.S. congress’ continued refusal to remove the half a century old trade embargo that continues to punish the Cuban people while acting as a sympathy point for the Cuban government. Presidential hopefuls and Cuban-Americans Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have vowed that if they become president they will reverse all of the progress Obama has made in Cuban relations. Because, you know, it’s better to live in the past.

But Obama isn’t going to ignore the continued human rights abuses perpetrated by the Cuban government. Part of the deal of him visiting the island is predicated on being allowed to meet with dissident groups. While it’s surprising that the Cuban government will allow that, I guess it’s a bigger coup for them to have the president there than not. Obama said,

“If I go on a visit, then part of the deal is that I get to talk to everybody. I’ve made very clear in my conversations directly with President [Raul] Castro that we would continue to reach out to those who want to broaden the scope for, you know, free expression inside of Cuba.”

It will be interesting to see what comes of his visit. Mrs. Obama will also be joining him. I was thinking of going to Cuba in the next few months anyway. Maybe I’ll go that weekend?

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