The thawing of the diplomatic relationship between the United States and Cuba culminated in a historic visit Sunday (Mar. 20) by President Barack Obama and the First Family to the island nation. President Obama is the first sitting president to visit the nation in over 90 years.
The Associated Press reports:
Obama’s whirlwind trip is a crowning moment in his and Cuban President Raul Castro’s ambitious effort to restore normal relations between their countries. While deep differences persist, the economic and political relationship has changed rapidly in the 15 months since the leaders vowed a new beginning.
Wielding an umbrella on a rainy Havana afternoon, Obama and his family stepped off of Air Force One and were greeted by top Cuban officials — but not Raul Castro. The Cuban leader frequently greets major world figures upon their arrival at Jose Marti International Airport, but was absent on the tarmac. Instead, he planned to greet Obama on Monday at the Palace of the Revolution.
“This is a historic visit,” Obama said as he greeted U.S. Embassy staff and their families at a Havana hotel. “It’s an historic opportunity to engage with the Cuban people.”
Joined by first lady Michelle Obama and his two daughters, Obama toured Old Havana by foot, walking gingerly on the slippery wet stones in front of the Havana Cathedral. The downpour notwithstanding, a few hundred people gathered in the square erupted in applause and shouted Obama’s name as the first family stepped forward.
The family’s first stop was a Havana hotel, marking the first time a U.S. president has stepped foot on the island nation since President Calvin Coolidge did so in 1928. The Obamas were met with cheers and adoration from the public, with Havana being an important stop given the city’s rich Afro-Cuban history and architecture.
Along with the formal meeting on Monday with President Castro, President Obama will join the leader and several notable figures for a baseball contest between the MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team. President Obama will also deliver a speech focused on bringing about an economic partnership between the Cuba and the United States.
WABC noted in a report that Cubans stateside are frowning upon Obama’s visit and view President Castro as untrustworthy.
Watch a video report from ABC7NY in the clip below.
Photo: screen cap