President Obama’s first morning in Cuba began with a visit to a local hero’s memorial and will culminate with a meeting with his counterpart, Raul Castro, where Obama is expected to press for more economic opportunities and improved human rights.
Obama, the first American president to visit the Communist island nation since Calvin Coolidge nearly 90 years ago, has made a priority of providing more help for large and small businesses — including the hundreds of thousands of Cubans who have taken advantage of incremental economic reforms and become entrepreneurs. Obama will speak to some of them at an small business event Monday afternoon.
The Castro regime’s treatment of dissidents is looming over Obama’s visit. Civil rights advocates said there were signs of a crackdown on some of the most outspoken of them in advance Obama’s arrival, and authorities have not let up on their arrests of protesters who take part in weekly demonstrations.
Obama will give a speech to the Cuban people Tuesday, then meet with a group that is expected to include dissidents and members of the political opposition. The president’s opponents, including Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, who is of Cuban heritage, have criticized Obama for not being more outspoken about the plight of dissidents. Read more