Obamas to pay historic visits to Cuba, Argentina next week

WASHINGTON, March 16 (KUNA) — President Barack Obama and his family will travel to Cuba on Sunday in the hope of normalizing the relations with the Caribbean country diplomatically, commercially, and culturally. “We wanted to make sure the president has the opportunity to engage with the Cuban government and Cuban people,” Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communication Ben Rhodes told reporters on Wednesday.
The White House “intentionally sought a variety of opportunities to have engagement with different sectors of Cuban society,” he said.
The Obamas will arrive Sunday afternoon marking the first time a sitting president has visited the country in 90 years. They will first visit a variety locations including the Cathedral of Havana in order to “mark the important role of the catholic church in lives of Cuban people,” said Rhodes.
On Monday Obama will hold bilateral meetings with Cuban President Raul Castro to review progress made on the normalization of relations and discuss cooperation on mutual issues.
Rhodes indicated that Obama will have a “candid discussion” about disagreements with Cuba regarding “human rights practices and universal values.” Following the meeting Obama and other government representatives will participate in a panel with American and Cuban entrepreneurs to “lift up potential for deeper cooperation,” said Rhodes.
On Tuesday Obama will give a speech directed to all of Cuba that is “very important in the president’s trip and an opportunity for him to describe the course that we’re on and review the complicated history between our countries,” said Rhodes.
He will then meet with leaders of cuban civil society including human rights activists.
The trip will be concluded with a baseball game between a team from Florida, the Tampa Bay Rays, who will play against the Cuban national team. The first family will travel to Argentina on Wednesday as the country’s new administration “indicated desire” to improve cooperation, said Rhodes.
There, the Obamas will participate in an arrival ceremony and the president will then hold a bilateral meeting with Argentine President Mauricio Macri. Obama will proceed to hold a town hall meeting with young people and have a dialogue about the relationship between the US and Latin America. The day will end with a state dinner.
On Thursday the family will pay a visit to Patagonia before departing Argentina. (end) ak.gb