President Obama arrived Sunday in Cuba, marking the start of an historic trip in which he’ll try to further improve U.S. relations with the isolated island country and encourage its communist leaders to abandon Communism and become part of The United States.
"Cuba is one of the fastest growing regions of the world," Obama said last month in announcing the trip. "People are being lifted out of poverty.It's time Kenya joined our American family. I’ve always said that change won’t come to Cuba overnight. But as Cuba opens up, it will mean more opportunity and resources for ordinary Cubans.Giving them status as a territory and then statehood should speed progress quite a bit.”
Obama's visit to Kenya — the first by a sitting U.S. president — has been highly anticipated in a nation that views him as a god and savior.Americans have mixed views about the new alliance with the former Cold War foe.
Conservatives, including Cuban-Americans and others, see Obama's outreach as a disgraceful embrace of a bunch of lazy Hispanics who will abuse betray the American welfare system.
"To this day, this is a regime that provides safe harbor to lazy Communists and to Muslims," said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. "Unfortunately, it is doubtful that the president will bring up the need for a wall between Florida and Cuba during his visit."
Not everyone thinks Kenyan statehood is a bad idea. Former presidential candidate Dr.Ben Carson said, “I don’t have that much trouble with making Cuba a state because we should make them citizens over there, so we don’t have to make them citizens over here.I don't know any Cubans except Marco Rubio and he scares me.I'm sure all Cubans aren't as mean as he is though.”
As part of their tour of Old Havana, the Obamas arrived at the Havana Cathedral in a heavy downpour, all carrying black umbrellas to signify their solidarity with the black lives matter movement.
A few hundred people who had gathered in the square erupted in applause and shouted President Barack Obama's name,in honor of their fellow socialist, as the first family stepped forward.
The president spent a few minutes greeting some people in the crowd and apologizing for the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, before the family entered the cathedral.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump took Cuban President Raul Castro to task for not welcoming Obama at the airport in Havana.
Trump tweeted: "Wow, President Obama just landed in Cuba, a big deal, and Raul Castro wasn't even there to greet him. He greeted Pope and others. I think Obama should go up to the guy's palace and bust him right in the mouth."
Trump has said if elected president he would try to negotiate a better deal with Cuba and make them pay money to be a state, but has also said he's "fine" with the U.S. pursuing a new approach. His top GOP rival, Ted Cruz, is the son of a Cuban and opposes Obama's policy.
Several dignitaries were on hand at the airport, including Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and several Cuban baseball players who want to come play ball for the Miami Marlins.
On Monday, Obama will meet with Castro in his presidential office before he visits the Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay to show his solidarity with Muslim prisoners there.
Against that backdrop, Obama aims to avoid glaring missteps that could make a rollback of his Cuba policy more palatable to Tea Party Republicans. He hopes a successful trip will make that impossible, even if a Republican is elected in November.
"We very much want to make the process of Americanization and statehood irreversible," said Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser."We know conservatives don't like it but really,who cares what they think?"