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Obama Aims to Bury the Hatchet with Cuba

President Barack Obama is meeting with Cuban President Raoul Castro in his historic visit to the island nation Monday.

The meeting comes just hours after the arrest of human rights advocates in Havana.

Obama is the first U.S. president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. He’s hoping the historic visit will jump-start a new relationship between the United States and communist nation.

“It’s a historic opportunity to forge new agreements and commercial deals, to build new ties between our two peoples and for me to lay out my vision for a future that’s brighter than our past,” the president told staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

But only hours before he arrived in Cuba and toured old Havana with his family, police clashed with human rights protestors. At least 50 demonstrators were arrested.

Obama plans to discuss human rights when he meets with President Raul Castro.

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz tweeted support for the Cuban people and criticized the visit, writing inPolitico, “Political prisoners languishing in dungeons across the island will hear this message: Nobody has your back. You’re alone with your tormentors. The world has forgotten about you.”

“There will be no mojitos at the U.S. Embassy for them,” he continued. “Raul Castro denies their very existence.”

GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump says he supports a new relationship with Cuba, but suggests President Castro should have greeted the president when he arrived.

“There was nobody there to greet him. Folks, what are we doing, what are we doing? Now here’s how a thing like that is supposed to work. Number one, he has his people call up and say, ‘who is going to be greeting the president?’ If they say nobody, you don’t go until somebody’s there because you don’t want to look like a fool,” Trump insisted.

But not everyone is critical.  American Alan Gross, who was released from a Cuban prison a year ago, told CBN News’ Gary Lane the president’s visit is a courageous move.

“You sat in a prison cell for five years. Is it the right course?” Lane asked.

“Well, absolutely,” Gross replied. “If we had had diplomatic relations 55 years ago, 50 years ago, 45 years ago, six years ago,  I might not have had to forfeit five years of my life.”

“The whole idea of constructive engagement helps to avoid circumstances like this,” he continued. “And people who are critical of the process that we’ve recently gone through really need to take a look at that.”

Obama’s visit will conclude Tuesday with a televised speech to the Cuban people, attendance at a baseball game, and a possible meeting with political dissidents.



 

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