Obama plans to 'build new ties, lay out plan for future' during visit to Cuba
Posted March 20, 2016
Updated March 21, 2016
HAVANA — When Air Force One touched down in Havana Sunday afternoon, President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to visit Cuba since 1928.
Obama's first stop was a Havana hotel, where he greeted U.S. Embassy staff and their families and noted the momentous nature of his visit.
Miguel Morales said he hopes the visit will inspire Cuban and American politicians to put the politics from the last 50 years aside and come together.
Darra Goldstein echoed that sentiment.
"This is an extraordinary place. It is a moment of transition," she said.
In the days leading up to the president's historic trip, he removed Cuba from a list of courtries considered a security threat and lifted travel restrictions.
For more than 50 years, Cuba was an unimaginable destination for a U.S. president, as well as most American citizens. The U.S. severed diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 after Fidel Castro's revolution sparked fears of communism spreading to the Western Hemisphere. Domestic politics in both countries contributed to the continued estrangement well after the Cold War ended.
Hours before Obama arrived, protestors calling out for human rights in Cuba were detained by police.
In a statement, the first made during his trip, Obama explained the purpose of his visit.
"To build new ties between out peoples, and for me to lay out my vision for a future brighter than our past," he said.
The president's schedule in Cuba is jam-packed, including an event with U.S. and Cuban entrepreneurs. But much of Obama's visit was about appealing directly to the Cuban people and celebrating the island's vibrant culture.