Time: 10:31 p.m. CEST
President Barack Obama signaled the possibility for the end of the U.S. embargo on Cuba, giving the promise that the path in normalization of the relation between two countries will “continue beyond my administration.”
During the second day of his official visit to Cuba, first of an American siting president after 88 years, Obama once more justified his policy to open pathways for cooperation with countries aside differences in perceiving what is democracy and what standards uphold human rights.
“The reason is logic. What we did for 50 years did not serve our interest or in the interest of the Cuban people. Lifting of the embargo requires majority in Congress and more than majority in the Senate.” But, Obama pledged for two things, which will, as he addressed, “help accelerate the pace.”
A comment by the Cuba’s President Raul Castro that removing of the embargo from the U.S. to Cuba is essential for the normalization of the relations shed light on what was discussed in the face-to-face meeting before the joint news conference of both presidents at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana.
Certainly, Obama made his point when answering the question form Andrea Mitchell of the NBC News about future of the relations considering only the nine remaining months of his presidency and that Castro will leave in 2018. Obama made his point explaining that two things could accelerate the lifting of the embargo; the opportunity for the American companies to trade in Cuba, access to Internet for Cuba residents and human rights.
President Obama strictly underlined that transformations do not come overnight. “After more than five difficult decades that relationship between our two governments would not be transformed over night. As President Castro indicated we have serious differences, including democracy and human rights,” Obama explained.
President Obama used appealing sentences, “It is a new day,” or “It is a new chapter” to describe the importance of the relationship of both countries during the first visit of the American president to Cuba. As Obama pointed out, this visit adjusted the embargo in some parts, yet, as he explained, removing will require majority of Congress’ votes and more than of the majority of the votes in Senate.
“As I continue to call on Congress to lift the trade embargo and discussed with President Castro the steps we urge Cuba to take to show that is ready to do more business, which includes allowing more joint ventures and allowing foreign companies to hire Cubans directly. We are moving ahead to connect Cubans with Internet and the global economy, ” Obama explained.
Obama did not spare healing words for the hold in the relations, which eventually hurt many, separating families and cutting economic ties. But as Obama said, “With only 90 miles between us, we are natural trading partners.” Obama emphasized the broader economic steps that the US and Cuba took last week.
That includes, “allowing the US dollar to be used more widely with Cuba, giving Cubans more access to the dollar in international transactions and allowing Cubans in the U.S. to earn salaries.” Obama welcomed “Cuba’s announcement to end 10% penalties on conversions here, which will open the door for more travel and more commerce. With this visit we agreed to deepen on agriculture, support our farms and ranches.”
Obama continues his two-day visit to Cuba. Later during the day he meet with possible entrepreneurs and he would discuss possibilities “for taking more Cubans to learn, innovate and do business online, because in the 21st century countries could not be successful if their citizens do not have access to Internet.”
The joint news conference turned tense for a moment when the CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta, second generation of Cuban American as the President pointed to him, asked three questions, which mainly remained unanswered. One of the question, “Why do you have political prisoners?” asked by Acosta provoke Cuba’s President Raul Castro, who challenged the situation.
As Obama pointed out, “overnight changes” are not possible. However, this year human-rights dialogue in Havana will happen this year, while both of the countries should “welcome visits by independent UN experts, as we combat human trafficking, which we agree is profound violation of the human rights,” Obama said.
In the afternoon, President Obama visited a memorial to Jose Marti, freedom for Cuba’s independence. President Barack Obama was photographed in front of a giant mural depicting Ernesto “Che” Guevara on Monday during a ceremony at the Jose Marti Monument in Havana. Obama praised Marti who “gave his life for independence of his homeland.”
President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, their two teenage daughters Sasha and Malia toured old Havana by foot. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cuba and met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parilla before he joined President Obama during his visit to the island nation.