President Obama made a historic visit to Havana on 20 March, the first by a US president for almost 90 years.
The tour was packed with symbolic moments. He paid tribute to the father of Cuban independence, José Martí in Revolution Square and attended a baseball match between Florida’s Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team.
He addressed the Cuban people twice; a joint press conference alongside Raúl Castro and a 30-minute, live, televised address from the Gran Teatro in Havana. On both occasions he reiterated his call to the US Congress to end the blockade, which Raúl Castro reminded him “stands as the most important obstacle to our economic development and the well-being of the Cuban people.”
Despite the ongoing blockade, Obama and his family were received warmly by the Cuban people and government and the visit gives hope for improved relations and the lasting benefits this will bring the citizens of both countries.
However there is a long way to go before relations are normalised.
Just three days after stating to the Cuban people that it was time “for us to leave the past behind”, and “to look forward to the future together”, Obama’s government announced a $753,989 community internship programme targeting “young emerging leaders from Cuban civil society”, on top of $30 million in regime change programmes due for approval in Congress this year.
Fidel Castro called Obama’s words “honey-coated” and wrote “We don’t need the empire to give us anything,” in a column for the Cuban daily newspaper Granma.
“Cubans are under no illusion that the blockade is over, nor should we be” read CSC’s response to Obama’s visit in the Morning Star
CSC responds to worldwide media interest in Obama’s visit
CSC received many requests from international media outlets to comment on the visit and carried out interviews with several radio and television stations including Turkey, Russia and Africa. Watch highlights below:
- Rob Miller, CSC director, discusses visit on Russia Today
- Ollie Hopkins, Campaigns Officer, on the Islam Channel
- Rob Miller, CSC director, speaks to TRT World
Several CSC members and supporters also wrote to the Guardian to complain at the paper’s coverage of the visit.
- Full transcript of the joint press conference between Raúl Castro and Barack Obama
- Obama’s televised speech to the Cuban people here
- Fidel’s response to Obama’s words
For further articles and discussion on Obama’s visit see www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk.