Obama Announces Historic Cuba Visit

| by Kathryn Schroeder

President Barack Obama will visit Havana, Cuba, in March with First Lady Michelle Obama.

The president announced the trip on Feb. 18 with a series of tweets:

14 months ago, I announced that we would begin normalizing relations with Cuba - and we’ve already made significant progress.

Our flag flies over our Embassy in Havana once again. More Americans are traveling to Cuba than at any time in the last 50 years.

We still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly. America will always stand for human rights around the world. 

Next month, I'll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people.

Obama will be the first U.S. President to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge did in 1928, according White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes.

"President Coolidge traveled to Cuba on a U.S. battleship, so this will be a very different kind of visit," Rhodes wrote in a post on Medium. 

Obama's trip is scheduled for March 21-22.

Republican presidential candidates quickly made known their unhappiness with the president’s plans to visit Cuba.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a Cuban-American, said he would not visit the country unless it were a “free Cuba,” according to CNN. The Cuban government is “an anti-American communist dictatorship,” Rubio said. “They’re a repressive regime.”

"I think it's a real mistake," Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said. "I think the president ought to be pushing for a free Cuba. My family has seen firsthand the evil and the oppression in Cuba. We need a president who stands up to our enemies."

The U.S. Embassy was reopened in Cuba in August 2015. While travel restrictions to the country have since been loosened for American citizens, tourism travel remains prohibited as the embargo still stands.

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