Stepping off US Air Force One today onto the tarmac in Havana Cuba, Barrack Obama became the first US President to visit the beleaguered, socialist island since 1928! Ironically, as Bob Dylan once sang during the Cold War Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, a "hard rain" falls on the welcoming party. Cuban President Raoul Castro, unlike during the Papal Visit, isn't there to greet him. Perhaps, as the 1200 member Presidential motorcade entourage of advisers, aids and business interests snake their way into the city, the many, looming questions hanging over the trip are only fitting!
The crippling stranglehold of the 50 year US economic embargo still remains tightly in place. So too, a permanent "State of Emergency". Together, they've had a very dire effect upon every aspect of Cuban life from security, to the basic necessities of life and the troubling issue of human rights. The everyday hopes of the average Cuban citizen on this most historic of days would be well tempered with a realistic concern about the new opportunities on the horizon, their independence, and preserving the hard fought gains of the "Triumph of the Revolution", in face of change.
Indeed, despite Obama's seemingly quite excellent intention to "normalize relations", US ex-patriates and "anti-Communists" remain angry about the Castro revolutionary government. So too are there long, lingering concerns at the US Congress and Senate who's votes are necessary for the US embargo to be officially lifted. However, "Operation Mongoose" with it's emphasis on US sanctioned regime change through a horrific series of now declassified espionage, assassination attempts and terror attacks is now long past. While the future of the American occupation of the Naval Base at Guantanamo, now better known as a US prison camp in the "War Against Terror" remains less clear.
Yet despite the pressing doubts, the dark cloud cover and torrential rains, today is a well deserved day of joy. Many people, myself included as a Cuban observer since 1981, never thought we would live to see this happen!
Over the next few days I will continue to post news updates from the visit here on my site. I will also humbly repost the link to my own blogs on Cuba as Director of the Cuban School Project for whatever insights they might serve for you the reader. You can also follow my ongoing news service via my Twitter account
US Air Force One spotted in Cuba!
Much, more to come .....