Obama to meet Castro face-to-face on historic Cuba trip

21 Mar, 2016 1:24 pm

HAVANA – US President Barack Obama turns from sightseeing to state business on his historic Cuba trip on Monday, pressing President Raul Castro for economic and democratic reforms while hearing complaints about continued U.S. economic sanctions.

Obama and Castro will have their fourth meeting, likely their most substantial, at the Palace of the Revolution, where Castro and his predecessor, older brother Fidel Castro, have led Cuba’s resistance to U.S. pressure going back decades.

A U.S. presidential visit to the inner sanctum of Cuban power would have been unthinkable before Obama and Raul Castro’s rapprochement 15 months ago, when they agreed to end a Cold War-era dispute that lasted five decades and continued even after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The two leaders have deep differences to discuss as they attempt to rebuild the bilateral relationship.

Obama is under pressure from critics at home to push Castro’s Communist government to allow dissent from political opponents and further open its Soviet-style command economy.

His aides have said Obama will encourage more economic reforms and greater access to the Internet for Cubans.

“One of the things that we’ll be announcing here is that Google has a deal to start setting up more Wi-Fi and broadband access on the island,” Obama told ABC News in an interview that aired on Monday. He gave no other details, and representatives for Google could not be immediately reached.

His administration hopes changes might also come at a Communist Party congress next month but doubts any political opening will be forthcoming.

U.S. President Barack Obama turns from sightseeing to state business on his historic Cuba trip on Monday, pressing President Raul Castro for economic and democratic reforms while hearing complaints about continued U.S. economic sanctions.


Obama and Castro will have their fourth meeting, likely their most substantial, at the Palace of the Revolution, where Castro and his predecessor, older brother Fidel Castro, have led Cuba’s resistance to U.S. pressure going back decades.

A U.S. presidential visit to the inner sanctum of Cuban power would have been unthinkable before Obama and Raul Castro’s rapprochement 15 months ago, when they agreed to end a Cold War-era dispute that lasted five decades and continued even after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The two leaders have deep differences to discuss as they attempt to rebuild the bilateral relationship.

Obama is under pressure from critics at home to push Castro’s Communist government to allow dissent from political opponents and further open its Soviet-style command economy.

His aides have said Obama will encourage more economic reforms and greater access to the Internet for Cubans.

“One of the things that we’ll be announcing here is that Google has a deal to start setting up more Wi-Fi and broadband access on the island,” Obama told ABC News in an interview that aired on Monday. He gave no other details, and representatives for Google could not be immediately reached.

His administration hopes changes might also come at a Communist Party congress next month but doubts any political opening will be forthcoming. –Reuters




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