President Barack Obama met with Cuban president Raul Castro last week to discuss topics such as lifting the Cuban embargo, allowing more freedom for the Cuban people, and restoring relations between the two countries.
President Obama is the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba since 1928. In December, he announced that the United States would make efforts to restore its diplomatic ties with the country.
The president’s three-day stay in Cuba was complicated by news that the United State’s ally, Belgium, had just come under a terrorist attack in its capital.
During the visit, President Obama and President Castro took questions from reporters at a joint press conference. During the event, reporter Jim Acosta from CNN asked Castro about the political prisoners being held in Cuba. He dodged the question by simply denying the existence of political prisoners in the country and asked for a list of names to release whoever was allegedly being imprisoned.
President Obama also delivered a speech to the Cuban people at the Revolutionary Palace in Havana, during which he said the following: “I want you to know, I believe my visit here demonstrates that you do not need to fear a threat from the United States…and given your commitment to Cuba’s sovereignty and self-determination, I’m also confident that you need not fear the different voices of the Cuban people and their capacity to speak and assemble and vote for their leaders.”
Both President Obama and President Castro later went together to a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team.
President Obama chose on this trip to not visit Raul Castro’s brother, the ex-president of Cuba, Fidel Castro. The president stated that he would visit him on his next trip if Castro’s health permitted.
According to CNN Politics, ex-president Fidel Castro wrote about Obama’s visit in a 1,500-word letter titled “Brother Obama,” stating, “We don’t need the empire to give us anything.”
The White House continues to see progress, even after the remarks from the former President Castro. According to the Wall Street Journal, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that the ex-president’s response to Obama’s visit is a sign of the significant impact the president made on his visit.