14ymedio 20 February 2016 — The first trip by a US president to Cuba in almost ninety years was the central focus of Barack Obama’s weekly message to the American people, broadcast this Saturday. The president concluded his speech with the Spanish phrase, “Nos vemos in La Habana.” (We’ll see each other in Havana.)
Obama said that his presence on the island is based on a decision he took “to begin a new chapter in our relationship with the people of Cuba.” He believes that “the best way to help the Cuban people improve their lives, is through engagement—by normalizing relations between our governments and increasing the contacts between our peoples.”
The president acknowledged that “change won’t come to Cuba overnight.” But as the island opens up, there will be “more opportunity and resources for ordinary Cubans.” In his speech he listed the advances that he believes have been achieved in the last year, such as US diplomats “interacting more broadly with the Cuban people.”
The increase of US visitors to the island, among whom are “Cuban-American families; American students, teachers, humanitarian volunteers, faith communities,” are helping to forge “new ties and friendships that are bringing our countries closer,” he said. And he predicted that “when direct flights and ferries resume,” the citizens of both nations “will have the chance to travel and work together and know each other.”
For the president, the start-up of US companies in Cuba is “helping to nurture private enterprise and giving Cuban entrepreneurs new opportunities.” The implementation of “new WiFi hotspots” means that “more Cubans are starting to go online and get information from the outside world,” he said.
“In Cuba today, for the first time in a half century, there is hope for a different future, especially among Cuba’s young people who have such extraordinary talent and potential just waiting to be unleashed,” said Obama.
During his visit the US President will meet with Raul Castro, “to discuss how we can continue normalizing relations, including making it easier to trade and easier for Cubans to access the Internet and start their own businesses.”
Obama announced that he will speak “candidly” about the important differences with the Cuban government, “including on democracy and human rights” and reaffirm that “the United States will continue to stand up for universal values such as freedom of speech, assembly and religion.”
In the speech on Saturday it was confirmed that the occupant of the White House will also meet with “members of civil society in Cuba: courageous men and women who give voice to the aspirations of the Cuban people.” The president also plans to meet with “Cuban entrepreneurs to learn how we can help them start new ventures.”
Obama said he will speak “directly to the Cuban people” about the values shared by the two countries and the ways in which they can collaborate. A population for which he predicts “a future of more freedom and more opportunity.”