Wednesday, February 17, 2016

President Obama to Visit Cuba

President Barack Obama is planning on traveling to Cuba sometime in late March. This trip will theoretically precede Obama's trip to Argentina and plans on being scheduled before Good Friday and Easter Sunday, two important Latin American holidays. Tomorrow, Thursday, the administration will announce a more finalized version of the president's Latin American travels (Washington Post).

In 2014, Cuba and the U.S. started a reconciliation of relations. Then, last summer, diplomatic ties were formally reestablished (Washington Post). Additionally, the U.S.'s embassy in Havana, Cuba, was reopened, as well as the restoration of air traffic in and out of Cuba to the U.S. (ABC), which was once banned.

Obama would be the first sitting president since Coolidge in 1928 to visit Cuba (NBC). This makes Obama's visit somewhat historic, especially to American-Cuban relations.

Obama makes clear that his visit to Cuba is an attempt to reach out to all Cubans, not just President Castro himself (Washington Post). Obama wants to impress upon Cubans the ideas of moving forward and expanding their country's means of free expression.

Some people believe this visit is a mistake, as it could only reaffirm Cuban leaders' repressive actions. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican from Florida and a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, happens to agree with this notion (Washington Post).

1. Given my last statement, do you believe Obama's trip to Cuba will do more harm than good?
2. Are there other ways to go about promoting free expression in Cuba that are less outright than a face-to-face visit by the sitting American president?



Daniel Jun said...

This increasing connection between Cuba and the United States is ultimately a positive outcome. This reconciliation can and most likely will invite increased trade, be it in machinery, agriculture, or services. However, the economic benefits of this may end up being minimal. America, despite the embargo that currently exists, is one of the major exporters to Cuba.
However, increased amity between our two nations is a step away from a decades-old sense of war-time hostility. As far as I can tell, there are no negatives to this.
1. I believe Obama's visit is strange, yet at the same time ballsy. It will most likely cement the improving relations between the US and Cuba.
2. Well of course there are a million ways to go about this differently, but Obama's visit is a showcase of trust. This may be the most effective method by which to cement relations.

Caroline Mameesh said...

Thanks for your comment, Daniel!
I agree with you that visiting Cuba is a brave and strong move. It will definitely cement a more amicable relationship. However, beyond this, it will also (or at least hopes to) encourage Cuba to continue its forward thinking. Cuba most certainly hasn't adopted a mindset like that of the U.S.'s, but Obama's visit hopes to further encourage "freedom of expression" in Cuba, as my original source states.
I don't see many negative aspects, either, but I happen to disagree with you on the fact that there are no negatives. Consider Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's point. There is a chance, however small (though not everyone views it as small), that this visit will encourage or 'reinforce' Castro's repressive actions. I think this thought is a bit close-minded, though, as Cuba is making more of a move away from dictatorship. Even if close-minded, the point does hold validity.

Louis Villa said...

As Daniel said, I think it is very important for Obama to make the trip to Cuba because it shows an honest attempt to rebuild relations with the country after so many years of ignoring them. I think that the work Obama has done throughout his presidency to improve relations with Cuba is important because it will help to improve the image of our country across the globe. We need to remove the idea that the United States will interfere with anything that economically benefits ourselves without regard to the local culture

Caroline Mameesh said...

Thanks for your comment, Louis!
I agree. It is time for change and it is time for reevaluation. Times are far different than they used to be, and, right now, it is key that the U.S. does what it takes to strengthen its image. This will certainly help accomplish that. Good point!

Meghan Hilbert said...

I agree with Louis that it's important for Obama to be on good terms with Cuba. He has come this far to create more peace between the two countries, so why not continue it? Having more peaceful relations with other countries will only do good. Especially with ongoing problems with the Middle East, if something huge were to happen, like a war, we'd want more countries on our side. I agree with Daniel that having the Presidents meet shows huge trust between the countries. However it has been on the news that Commercial flights will begin between the US and Cuba, so maybe having our own civilians travel there would reflect respect of their culture and trust.