President Obama will travel to Cuba in the coming weeks, a senior administration official confirmed to CBS News on Wednesday night.
The administration will announce the president’s upcoming trip to Latin America, including Cuba, on Thursday, the official said. No sitting U.S. president has visited Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.
Now over a year after moving to normalize relations with Cuba, the White House has concluded that the conditions are now right for visiting the island. The announcement will come only two days after the U.S. and Cuba signed an agreement that restores commercial air traffic between their two countries for the first time in 50 years.
ABC News first reported the president’s upcoming trip on Wednesday evening.
In Dec. 2014 the president had said he’d go to Cuba if “I with confidence can say that we’re seeing some progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans, I’d love to use a visit as a way of highlighting that progress,” he told Yahoo News.
The president has used his executive powers to restore many aspects of diplomatic relations with Cuba and sent Secretary of State John Kerry to the ceremony reopening the U.S. embassy in Havana. But Congress still holds the keys to a full restoration of ties: Only they can lift the longstanding trade embargo. There is still deep opposition to restoring relations with Cuba, especially among the several Cuban-American lawmakers in the House and Senate and several of the Republican presidential candidates.
In the president’s final State of the Union address to lawmakers last month, he called on Congress to lift the embargo.
“You want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere? Recognize that the Cold War is over,” Mr. Obama said.
As details of the president’s upcoming trip trickled out Wednesday night, several GOP presidential candidates reacted to the news. At CNN’s Republican town hall in South Carolina, Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz both said that they wouldn’t travel to the Communist country until it’s a free Cuba and no longer ruled by the Castro family.(
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