President Obama Arrives In Cuba For Historical Visit

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President Barack Obama arrived to small but cheering crowds on Sunday at the start of a historic visit to Cuba that opened a new chapter in U.S. engagement with the island’s Communist government after decades of hostility between the former Cold War foes.

“It’s a historic opportunity to engage directly with the Cuban people,”

Obama told staff at the newly reopened U.S. Embassy who were gathered at a hotel, his first stop after arriving in the afternoon.

The three-day trip, the first by a U.S. president to Cuba in 88 years, is the culmination of a diplomatic opening announced by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in December 2014, ending an estrangement that began when the Cuban revolution ousted a pro-American government in 1959.

“Welcome to Cuba! We like you!”

a man shouted as Mr. Obama’s entourage passed.

Above, a woman applauded and hooted from her wrought-iron balcony.

Groups of Cubans watched the motorcade from balconies and backyards as Obama was driven downtown, where a small crowd of Cubans braved a tropical downpour and tight security. They chanted:

“Viva Obama, Viva Fidel,”

as the president and his family left after eating dinner in a rundown neighborhood.

cuba obama

The trip makes Obama the first sitting American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge arrived on a battleship in 1928 and may help chip away at barriers to U.S.-Cuba trade and travel.

Obama, who abandoned a longtime U.S. policy of trying to isolate Cuba, wants to make his policy shift irreversible even if a Republican wins the White House in the Nov. 8 election.

 

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