President Barack Obama is scheduled to arrive for a historic visit in Cuba on Sunday afternoon. When Obama touches down in Havana, along with his wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia, it will mark the first visit by a sitting American president in 88 years.
“While in Cuba, the President will work to build on the progress we have made toward normalization of relations with Cuba – advancing commercial and people-to-people ties that can improve the well-being of the Cuban people and expressing our support for human rights,” said a statement from the White House press secretary’s office.
Obama will kick off his trip with a meet-and-greet at the U.S. embassy, followed by a family sightseeing tour in Old Havana that will include a stop at the Cathedral de San Cristobal de la Habana Sunday evening. Obama is scheduled to meet with Cardinal Ortega of the Roman Catholic Church, with the White House describing the church as playing an “integral role” in helping to reopen relations.
"In 2014, on December 17, half of my family stood in front of the television, as President Barack Obama announced that the United States would re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. At the same time, in Havana, the city where I was born and raised, the other half of my family watched President Raúl Castro make the same announcement. A new chapter can now be written in the common history of two nations with deep cultural bonds." -Maria Carla Chicuen, a Cuban American. Read more stories about what this President's historic trip means for Cuban Americans by clicking the link in the bio. #CubaVisit ____
The president will have a full day Monday, starting with a wreath-laying at the José Martí Memorial. Martí was a poet and journalist known for his fight for Cuban independence. Cuban leader Raúl Castro will officially welcome Obama at the Palace of the Revolution, and the two leaders will hold a bilateral meeting. In the afternoon, Obama will take part in an entrepreneurship summit followed by an evening state dinner. The White House has said Obama will not formally meet with ailing longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Obama will address the Cuban people Tuesday morning in Havana from the El Gran Teatro, followed by a visit with dissidents and civil society leaders. The White House has not released a list of the leaders and activists who will meet with the president. Before his departure Tuesday, Obama will watch a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team. From Cuba, Obama will next travel to Argentina.
Obama announced the normalization with Cuba in December 2014, marking a major foreign policy achievement of his presidency. As part of normalizing relations, direct flights and mail service will resume between the U.S. and Cuba. Even Obama’s arrival on Air Force One is historic, with former President Calvin Coolidge visiting in 1928 and arriving by battleship, ABC News reported.