Barack Obama is going to Cuba

Reuters and AFP with reference to sources in the US administration reported that Barack Obama is going to visit Cuba soon. The White House is expected to officially announce this today. A possible visit of Mr. Obama became known in early January. If it takes place, Barack Obama will become the first US president to visit Cuba in 88 years.

US President Barack Obama speaks during an event marking the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 2015. US President Barack Obama rallied a new generation of Americans to the spirit of the civil rights struggle, warning their march for freedom "is not yet finished." In a forceful speech in Selma, Alabama on the 50th anniversary of the brutal repression of a peaceful protest, America's first black president denounced new attempts to restrict voting rights. AFP PHOTO/ SAUL LOEB

US President Barack Obama is preparing to visit Cuba in the coming weeks, reports Reuters referring to the representative of the American administration. The exact date of the visit is not known yet, but it is expected to take place in March. Officially, Mr. Obama’s visit will be announced today during a briefing at the White House.

“We can confirm that the President’s administration will announce its intention to visit Latin American countries, including Cuba, in the coming weeks,” – told AFP a senior official in the US administration.

Barack Obama could be the first US president to visit Cuba in 88 years: last visit to Havana was paid in 1928 by the 30th US president, Republican John Calvin Coolidge.

The applicant for a nomination for the US presidency from the Republican Party Senator Marco Rubio criticized Mr. Obama’s plans to visit Cuba during a meeting with voters in Greenville (South Carolina), organized by TV channel CNN. According to Mr. Rubio, the island is ruled by “anti-American communist dictatorship.” He also called the course taken by Washington to improve relations with Havana erroneous: “I want the US-Cuba relationship to be changed, but it should be reciprocal.” According to the senator, once the diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored, “the Cuban government remained as repressive as before, but now with access to millions if not billions of dollars.”

Republican Senator Ted Cruz, also applying for the nomination for US presidency, also spoke out against the Obama’s trip to Cuba. “My father learned from experience about mistreatment and repression in Cuba”, – said Mr. Cruz (father of Senator Rafael Cruz was a Cuban immigrant, who had been arrested and spent time in prison before fleeing to the United States). According to him, Mr. Obama should not travel to Cuba since “Castro is still in power.”

Barack Obama’s possible visit to Cuba was announced in early January by the deputy president of the United States national security adviser Ben Rhodes. He said that Washington insists on respect for human rights in Cuba, stimulated economic activity and free access to the Internet for citizens. “The main issue for us is whether the president’s visit to Cuba will promote these priorities”, – said Mr. Rhodes then.

Washington and Havana have announced a course on normalization of relations in December 2014 as follows: then, Barack Obama and Raul Castro made a sensational statement of intent to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries. The US canceled a series of imposed restrictions on Cuba, as well as excluded the country from the list of states – sponsors of terrorism. July 20, 2015, the diplomatic relations were restored after more than half a century. Cuban Embassy in the US was opened the same day. The opening ceremony of the US diplomatic mission in Havana was attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry. In mid-September, President Obama took credentials from the Ambassador of Cuba in Washington, Jose Ramon Cabañas Rodriguez.

Regular flights between the US and Cuba were re-launched on February, 16. The agreement on the resumption of operations was signed in Havana, Cuba, with participation of US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Assistant Secretary of State Charles Rivkin.

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