Monday, February 22, 2016

CUBA - President Obama's March 21st Visit

"What does Obama’s historic visit mean for Cuba and the U.S.?" PBS NewsHour 2/18/2016


SUMMARY:  President Obama will be the first sitting U.S. President to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge, according to a Twitter announcement Thursday (2/18).  Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports on the latest in a series of moves to normalize relations with the communist state, and Judy Woodruff talks with William LeoGrande of American University for more on the implications.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  On March 21, President Obama will make Cuba the first stop on a trip to Latin America.  It will be an historic moment that comes 14 months after Cuba and the United States announced renewed diplomatic ties.

Our chief foreign affairs correspondent, Margaret Warner, begins our coverage.

MARGARET WARNER (NewsHour):  It will be the first visit to Cuba by a sitting American president since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.  President Obama announced the plans on his official Twitter feed today.

And Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes outlined the goals.

BEN RHODES, Deputy National Security Adviser:  We see it as a means of pushing forward this normalization process, trying to achieve a greater opening between the United States and Cuba commercially, but also supporting and advancing the values that we care about.

MARGARET WARNER:  The visit, including talks with Cuban leader Raul Castro, follows more than a year of work to thaw relations.  Embassies reopened in both countries, and the two nations this week agreed to start daily commercial flights.

But these moves toward normalization haven’t produced results as quickly as hoped.  Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, meeting Cuba’s trade minister in Washington this week, complained that, despite Washington easing restrictions on U.S. companies wanting to do business there, Havana hasn’t done the same.

Rhodes echoed that today.

BEN RHODES:  What we would like to see is that they are taking the types of steps that allow those regulatory changes to take hold, that allow U.S. businesses to start to be able to operate in Cuba in ways that benefit the Cuban people.

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