President Obama Will Visit Cuba, Pushing Forward Relations
Next month President Barack Obama will visit Cuba in what represents a huge step in the efforts of the president to improve relations between the U.S. and the communist-led Caribbean island nation.
The move will be announced on Thursday and suggests that Obama is determined to push forward with what he considers as another legacy achievement prior to leaving the White House in one year.
Since the huge thaw in ties between the two nations was announced November of 2014, Obama has made progress breaking down the different diplomatic barriers with a former enemy of the Cold War.
The two have restored diplomatic relations, the U.S. has taken Cuba off its lists of state sponsor of terrorism and Obama and Raul Castro the Cuban President have talked on a regular basis and met on two occasions.
Obama had been hard at work making sure the rapprochement is more than just symbolism. Using executive authority, he persistently chipped away at the restrictions placed by the U.S. on investment, travel and business in Cuba.
Last week was his most recent step when the two nations reached a new arrangement to restore commercial flights after more than 50 years.
There however is a limit to what the President is able to achieve alone. The economic embargo the U.S. placed on Cubs, which has been in force for decades, will only be removed if Congress votes to do so.
Although overall support for this embargo is waning, it maintains widespread backing amongst lawmakers from both parties who have said lifting it would reward what is one of the most politically repressive countries in all of Latin America.
Obama has argued that the embargo is just broken policy that it not just hurt Cuba greatly economically but failed to spur democratic reforms which is something he said would come only when Cuba is open to the whole world.
However, thus far little evidence is present that thawing of relations has led to improvements in human rights. Despite the freeing of some political prisoners in Cuba and working to improve its access to Internet, censorship remains very widespread and the dissidents are jailed as often times as in the past.