Obama makes historic visit to Cuba

March 21, 2016
U.S. President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro of Cuba shake hands Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS/AP

For an American president to even think about landing at the Jose Marti airport in Havana and be warmly greeted by Cuba's foreign minister would've been considered absurd...until recently.

President Barack Obama is in Cuba for a historic three-day visit.

Brushing off decades of distrust, President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro shook hands Monday in Havana's Palace of the Revolution, a remarkable moment for two countries working to put the bitterness of their Cold War-era enmity behind them.

This took place when the United States' (US) President attended the memorial of a local hero's memorial on Monday morning.

Paying tribute to the Cuban independence hero, Obama adjusted a wreath at the foot of a 59-foot statue of Jose Marti, calling his trip "a historic moment."

"It is a great honor to pay tribute to Jose Marti, who gave his life for independence of his homeland," Obama wrote in the guestbook. "His passion for liberty, freedom, and self-determination lives on in the Cuban people today."

He is expected to push for speedier economic reforms as and improved human rights.

For many years, the US and Cuba were engaged in a bitter stand-off, that started with the overthrow of US-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista by Communist leader Fidel Castro in 1959.

But President Obama has been bent on restoring diplomatic relations with the island.

He is the first sitting US president to visit Cuba in almost 90 years.

 

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