Barack Obama is planning to make a historic trip to Cuba, a move which would see a US president for the first time in 80 years to visit the nation. The plans for the visit are expected to be announced by a National Security official at a White House briefing on Thursday.
The decision follows the President’s pledge with Raul Castro, the Cuban president, roughly 15 months ago, to revive diplomatic ties, in the aftermath of a prisoner exchange and the release of US contractor, Alan Gross in 2014.
“We can confirm that (Thursday) the administration will announce the President’s travel to Latin America, including Cuba, in the coming weeks,” the CNN quoted a senior administration official as saying.
Since the announcement of the release, there were a series of diplomatic talks between the two countries. The talks led to the reopening of embassies last summer and the recent deal of reinstating commercial air traffic between Cuba and American cities, the ABC News reported.
The last visit to the island nation located to the south of Florida by a US president was in 1928 when former President Calvin Coolidge made a trip to Havana to address the Sixth Annual International Conference of American States. There he met the then-Cuban President Gerardo Machado.
In 2002, Jimmy Carter visited Cuba, 20 years after he left office, on an invitation by the then Cuban President Fidel Castro.
US Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio criticised the plan on Wednesday saying, had he been the president he would not have visited the island nation unless it was a free nation.
Ted Cruz, another US presidential candidate, also condemned the idea of a presidential visit to Cuba.
“I think it’s a real mistake. I think the President ought to be pushing for a free Cuba,” the CNN quoted Cruz as saying. “My family has seen first-hand the evil and the oppression in Cuba. We need a president who stands up to our enemies.”