NTK 21 March
President Steps On Cuban Soil For The First Time Since 1928
President Obama stepped off Air Force One and onto the tarmac of Havana this morning, becoming the first sitting US President to visit the country since the Fidel Castro-led revolution of 1959. In fact, the last time a serving President visited the island was in 1928.
During the three-day visit Obama will discuss trade and political reform with counterpart President Raul Castro, brother of Fidel. Obama will not meet Fidel. Against the wishes of the Cuban communist government, Obama is however likely to meet political dissidents.
“Back in 1928, President Coolidge came on a battleship. It took him three days to get here – it only took me three hours. For the first time ever, Air Force One has landed in Cuba and this is our very first stop.”
Despite having re-established diplomatic ties last year, a crippling embargo remains in force, and protestors made their feeling heard to the visiting President. Obama responded to shouts of “End the embargo!” with a wave – although Congress has the power over this matter, and with an increasingly isolationist Republican Party at the helm, such a policy is unlike to come into force in the immediate future.
Breaking the embargo would improve the US economy to the tune of $1.2 billion per year. But Congress wants to see significant advances towards democracy before considering lifting it.