Obama to visit Cuba, moral victory for Castro

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PRESIDENT Barack Obama would become the first sitting US President to visit Cuba in 88 years, White House press secretary Josh Earnest announced Thursday. The visit, which is scheduled for March 21-22, is dubbed as another big step by the administration in ongoing efforts to normalise diplomatic relations with Cuba.
US Republicans have criticised the visit, saying it should not take place while the Castro family is in power. Washington and Havana restored diplomatic ties last July and the US relaxed travel and trade restrictions after a 54-year freeze. President Obama is schedule to meet members of the civil society, entrepreneurs and Cubans from all walks of life which would hopefully help ease tension further between the two countries. Analysts, while appreciating the move, see it as a moral victory of Castro family that strictly adhered to principles vis-à-vis relations with the United States and did not budge an inch despite crippling sanctions that hit Cubans hard for decades. Earlier, Washington decision to lift sanctions and restore diplomatic ties with Havana meant that the United States has started learning the lesson that sanctions are no solution and issues can only be resolved through discussions and dialogue. There are moves towards normalisation but still many obstacles hinder trade and this explains why visits of thousands of Americans to Cuba including businessmen did not result in signing of concrete deals. The tendency of treating entire Cuba as Guantanamo Bay should be discarded and relations built on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect. There is still an impression in Cuba that the United States was meddling into its internal affairs and this perception must end for a qualitative shift in their bilateral relations.