Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Obama’s Historic Trip To Cuba


History was made Sunday as President Obama became the first president since 1923 to land in the Caribbean country of Cuba. Our neighbors that are only 90 miles away have not been visited by an American president since Calvin Coolidge. President Obama now goes to the island nation to advance talks by both governments in normalizing relations after more than a half-century at odds.

On this trip President Obama is scheduled to meet with dissidents including the leader of Ladies in White, Berta Soler. The group held a protest earlier in the day and many of its members were arrested. This has thrown the spotlight of the visit into the question of how the White House plans to work with the Castro regime while expressing concerns about their handling of human rights and free speech.

“We thought there would be a truce, but it wasn’t to be,” said Elizardo Sánchez, who runs the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation. He noted that the arrests had taken place “in the moment that Obama was flying in the air to Cuba.”

Mr. Sánchez, who is among the dissidents expected to meet with the president on Tuesday, said that in the first two weeks of March, 526 critics of the government had been detained. While dissidents are often held for a few hours for printing fliers, staging street protests or just planning them, he and others said Mr. Obama’s visit had set in motion a broader campaign.

Other opposition activist such as José Daniel Ferrer have said that while the government has increased its pressure in recent months, it has largely been in response to growing activism. “It’s the third law of Newton: The greater the actions for democracy, the greater the repressive reaction by the regime,” he said. Many of his organization’s members have been arrested and released in recent weeks he added. Government authorities have been watching his house and he now wonders what is to happen when he leaves to attend his gathering with President Obama at the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday.

President Obama will be giving a speech to the Cuban people on Tuesday, it will be broadcast on all national networks, but it is unclear how much the Cuban people will get to see or hear of him. One young reporter who works for one of the major government news outlet said he and his colleagues have been warned the last few weeks about posting anything on social media regarding President Obama’s visit. No photographs, no commentary, no interviews with foreign reporters, not even private discussions with friends.

New York Times