The whole Havana, Cuba, was overfilled with emotions on Sunday. ‘I never thought I’d see this day’ – whispered people, trying to detect the American president. Right, you didn’t mishear, Barack Obama has become the first American president to visit Cuba for almost 90 years (88 to be more exact).
The three-day visit of the president and his family is the clear proof of a diplomatic opening announced by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in December 2014. They came to the common decision to end an estrangement that had lasted since the ouster of pro-American government during the Cuban revolution in 1959.
Mr. Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro focus on restoring of normal relations between the countries. There are still multiple differences, however the economic and political relationship has considerably improved for these 15 months of agreement.
The visit of the American president did face some opposition, reports Telegraph. Just before his landing on the Cuban territory, police had to arrest dozens of people protesting against the government, in scenes that are repeated every Sunday.
The women of the Ladies in White and their male supporters were arrested after they changed their planned route and blocked a street, where pro-government protesters shouted slogans at them. As usual, oppositionists get released a few hours after the arrest.
In the city center, Mr. Obama could observe the signs praising the eternity of the 1959 revolution, the legacy of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, and proclaiming: “The embargo: the biggest genocide in history.”
As scheduled, Barack Obama firstly visited the reopened US embassy. “Back in 1928, President Coolidge came on a battleship, it took him three days to get here. It only took me three hours,” he said. “This is a historic visit and a historic opportunity.”
Afterwards, Mr. Obama could enjoy Havana Vieja, the historic centre designated a Unesco world heritage site. The center is famous for its crumbling pastel-hued houses and atmospheric cobbled streets.
Plaza Catedral was overcrowded. Hundreds of people had been waiting here for four hours hoping to see the President. When he and his family appeared, the crows welcomed them with loud yells “Obama!”. Obama paused to wave them in response.
“We hope that good things will come from this visit,” said Orlando Laguardia, 84, dancing in the street and holding up the sign “Welcome Presidente Obama”.
“He’s coming at a difficult moment, as he can’t say too much in favour of Cuba because there are elections soon in America, and it will harm Hillary. But I think maybe he’ll announce the closing of the military base in Guantánamo. It’s Cuban land, and an affront to us” – said people passing by.
Today Barack Obama is holding a meeting with Mr. Castro. On Tuesday he is scheduled to address the nation in an eagerly-anticipated speech, meet dissidents and attend a baseball match. This trip is expected to seal an agreement reached on December 2014.