Published:  12:00 AM, 23 March 2016

President Obama's Historic visit to Cuba

President Obama's Historic visit to Cuba
It was a rainy day in Havana. President Barak Obama made the moment significant. He is the first sitting US president in last 88 years who visited Communist Cuba from 20-22 March, 2016, 99 miles away from US. That's really made this unthinkable visit historic. Cuba has long historic and cultural ties with US. The relation is so deep rooted that no one can sever it. In spite of this reality, people of both the country faced a long period of isolation. Cuban American couldn't able to meet their family in Cuba and same happened with Cubans having relatives in US. There was 55 years old trade embargo on Cuba imposed by US. Americans missed Cuban Coffee, Havana Club rum and Cuban missed American Chocolates and so many things. Moreover, American missed world's best medical science of Cuba for long time. This inhumane situation was strongly criticized in UN General Assembly in October 2015. This 193 member's body adopted a resolution calling for lift the embargo supported by its 191 members. Perhaps, President Obama's name will be notably written in the history for his significant role to start something practical to lift this embargo. As President Raul Castro said during the joint press conference on 21 March, 'We recognize the position of President Obama and his administration against the blockade, and his repeated appeals to Congress to have it removed.' This statement indeed reflects a strong message mutual trust. Now, what will be Cuba tomorrow? What will be the destiny of its present political and economic system when US corporate companies will enter this archipelago? These questions will have to deal by ruling Communist Party of Cuba, as same as China is dealing the question of market economy today. However, the reality of people's freedom of choice is now overwhelming and no one can deny it. USA and Cuba realized that.
It is true that President Obama tackled strong opposition from some rightwing politicians especially Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz while paving the way to reopen this window for Cuba. This top level visit within 15 months old diplomatic relation was indeed unimaginable. That is why, after Air Force One touches the ground of Jose Marti International Airport the US Ambassador to Cuba Mr. Jeffery DeLaurentis cheered with enthusiasm. He told to the journalists that US-Cuba relationship has the potentials to go long way. The same optimism was articulated during the joint press conference of President Obama and Raul Castro. Mr. Castro ushered people of both countries into a new future. Mentioning about the sign of several Memorandum of Understanding with US on environmental and maritime protection, safety of sea navigation, cooperation in agricultural development and combating the danger of narcotics, he efficiently projected the result oriented diplomacy. Also announcing a strong caution about apparent foreign interference in internal politics of Cuba that upholds his commitment to Cuban sovereignty.  
On the other hand, Mr. Obama won the mind Cuban youth as he shown a demo of friendly America while walking on foot with them in old Havana. Also he successfully drove American lawmakers to the process of normalizing relation between two countries. Mr. Obama said, 'The United States recognizes progress that Cuba has made as a nation, its enormous achievements in education and in health care.  And perhaps most importantly, I affirmed that Cuba's destiny will not be decided by the United States or any other nation.  Cuba is sovereign and, rightly, has great pride.  And the future of Cuba will be decided by Cubans, not by anybody else.' This gesture of mutual respect again strengthen the trust between two neighboring nation. The US president visited Cuba with about 1200 persons in his official delegation, which includes 40 Congressman both Democrats and Republican, top business leaders, professionals and civil society leaders. The combination of his delegation indicated a forward looking relationship. Obama's pledge to assist Cuba to bring its people into the brink of global online facility and to surf on information super highway was really appealing. Exchange of direct postal service between US and Cuba, resuming of commercial flights, allowing individual American to travel Cuba and finally reopening US Embassy in Havana shown the dawn of new day; these in reality a significant progress in terms of people to people relationship. To sustain Cuban national economy requires huge foreign trade.  A strong internet backbone is essential part of that. The lucrative tourism industry of Cuba thus waits for that internet facility. Already international hotel chain Starwood Hotel and Resorts with its well known brand Sheraton and Westin sought permission from US government to do business with Cuba. In US, billion dollars are waiting for Cuba. Along with US many European companies will rush Cuba if the embargo is lifted. Also there will be a big business for China too. Despite this positive atmosphere, nobody knows exactly when the trade embargo will be lifted. However, Mr. Obama tried his best to provide a strong ray of hope regarding the cancelation of trade embargo. As part of the normalizing relation between two countries he urged for wider educational exchanges. He offered more scholarship and grants as well as more Americans at Cuban schools and more Cubans at U.S. schools. This definitely accommodates the emotion of both Cubans and common Cuban-Americans.  This groundbreaking visit of President Obama is not only important for Cuba and USA but also for rest of the world. When Mr. Obama praised Cuban health care system it also indicates potential US assistance for Cuban medical and scientific research. Cuba already successfully combated serious transmissible disease like Zika virus. As Cuba has very remarkable progress in cancer research, no wonder that America and whole world will be benefited from that.
Criticizing autocrat Batista regime in 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy declared, 'Our aid to his regime, and the ineptness of our policies, enable Batista to invoke the name of the United States in support of his reign of terror.' We would like to hope, upholding this spirit Mr. Obama's umbrella will be an umbrella of friendship for Cuba. Thus people of both countries can dance salsa together in peace.  

The writer is Secretary, International Association of democratic Lawyers. Email: [email protected]

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