President Obama makes history in Cuba

Presidents Castro and Obama made history on Monday, discussing a path forward and normalizing relations between the two countries.

By Bronte Price, PoliticKING

President Obama made history on Monday by joining Cuban president Raúl Castro in Cuba for the first official talks between US and Cuban government in 88 years. Obama brought his family with him to Cuba and took a walking tour of Havana as soon as they arrived. He began his remarks on Monday by saying that although his daughters do not always like to travel with their parents, “they wanted to come to Cuba.”

The two leaders held a joint press conference inside the Palace of Revolution in Havana, where they discussed what action would be needed for both countries to begin normalizing relations.

"This is a new day—es una nueva día—between our two countries," Obama said.

Both leaders acknowledged some of the big differences between the two countries including human rights and democracy. “We continue to have serious differences, including on democracy and human rights,” he said during the press conference after the talks, noting that “frank and candid discussions” had taken place.

A few hours before Obama landed, Cuban authorities arrested more than 50 protesters who were marching to demand improved human rights. The group known as the Ladies in White, is comprised of wives of political prisoners. They march every Sunday after mass at a church in Miramar, a suburb of Havana. They are routinely arrested and detained for hours or sometimes days.

Castro compelled Obama to lift decades-old economic sanctions and asked for the United States’ departure from Guantanamo. "We recognize the position President Obama is in and the position his government holds against the blockade, and that they have called on Congress to lift it," Castro said.

During the Q&A session which followed, Castro appeared to be defensive when he was asked about the regime's political prisoners. "Give me a list of those political prisoners and I'll release them," he said. "If we have those political prisoners they will be free before nighttime."

Castro also side-stepped Obama’s question about human rights in Cuba. "Human rights," he said after a brief pause, "should not be politicized."

Here’s what Bill Press has to say about Obama’s record as president:

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.

Continue the Discussion