On March 20, 2016, President Barack Obama became the first sitting President to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in January of 1928. During his two day visit, President Obama met with Cuban President, Raul Castro.
` President Obama gave a speech on Cuban television in which he said that it was time for the two neighboring countries, who have not been on friendly terms dating back since the beginning of the Cold War, finally rekindle their relationship with one another and embrace the future together side by side.
Junior, Joey Chan, believes that President Obama visiting Cuba can be a huge step forward for both countries.
“It’s about time that the United States and Cuba try and fix their relationship. You’d figure, from an outsider’s point of view, that two countries that are so close to each other would get along better than they actually do. If anything, they should at least just makeup and each country continue to do their own separate thing. We don’t want to start a war and I’m pretty sure they don’t want to either,” said Junior Chan
Although many people welcomed President Obama with open arms, one person who was not as ecstatic about his visit was Fidel Castro. Castro, who was President of Cuba from 1976 to 2008, penned a letter to President Obama in which he said that Cuba does not need anything from the“empire”, in reference to the United States of America.
Sophomore, Juan Pascual, said that Fidel Castro’s comments were unnecessary and that he needs to move on.
“Fidel Castro is stuck in the past and still thinks that we’re in the Cold War. Obama just wants this tension between the United States and Cuba to go away. He doesn’t want to take over Cuba, nor does he really want to do anything to Cuba. Obama just wants to make sure that both countries understand that whatever problems we had in the past stay in the past and he wants to make sure we’re on friendly terms.”
Many people also criticized President Obama for attending a baseball game, between the Cuban national team and the Tampa Bay Rays, on Tuesday, March 22. This was the same day that Brussels was victim to a terrorist attack that was orchestrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
In regards to the backlash that President Obama is receiving from the public and the media, Junior, Sean Bowen thinks that the criticism is unfair.
“I think that the President just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. No one can never tell when there is going to be another terrorist attack. I saw a film where President Bush was reading a book with first graders while the September 11 attacks were going on. He was also at the wrong place at the wrong time, but it was not his fault,” said Junior Bowen
President Obama’s response to the criticism, reported by the Guardian, was very defensive and carefully worded.
“It’s always a challenge when you have a terrorist attack anywhere in the world. You want to be respectful and understand the gravity of the situation, but the whole premise of terrorism is to try to disrupt people’s ordinary lives.”
President Obama visiting Cuba is seen as a significant event due to the fact that he is the first President to visit Cuba in nearly 85 years. However, this visit has also allowed the Cuban population to witness and be reminded of the possibilities that may or may not lie ahead of them. It also gave Cubans hope that one day, they can live in a place where they have just as many rights as a citizen of the United States.