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History Made with Obama, Castro Meeting

Written by Tristan Rhee’17

This past Saturday, President Barack Obama met with Raul Castro of Cuba in Panama in the first meeting between leaders of the two countries in half a century. They met during the Summit of Americas conference, and it was an important first step in normalizing both countries’ relations.  After much criticism over America’s blockade of Cuba, Obama made it a goal to fix this broken relationship.

Even though it’s been over 20 years since the end of the Cold War, the US has only recently made moves to repair its connection with Cuba. From long standing embargos and restrictions, much still needs to be done to open up a complete dialogue, and many obstacles still impede a complete removal of the embargo, as Congress must still approve the bill.

Obama received plenty of heat at the last Summit of Americas in 2012.  Many Latin American countries called out Obama and his treatment of Cuba. Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela vowed not to attend again unless Cuba was invited. In response to these threats, Cuba was permitted to participate in the summit for the first time in the conference’s 20 year history.

While Obama seems ready to interact with Cuba regularly, Castro still has reservations. He gave a long speech Saturday, citing key mistakes the US has made in the past, with grievances that included the Bay of Pigs invasion and the opening of a prison in Guantanamo Bay.

But Castro also had kind words for Obama, calling him an “honest man” and praising him for taking steps towards removing Cuba from the state-sponsored terror list. After decades of ignorance on the part of former US presidents, Castro appreciates that some progress is being made. There should be a time in the near future when both countries are ready to fully reconcile their differences.




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