U.S. President Barack Obama has touched down in Cuba becoming the first sitting president to visit the island nation in nearly 90 years.
¿Que bolá Cuba? Just touched down here, looking forward to meeting and hearing directly from the Cuban people.— President Obama (@POTUS) March 20, 2016
It marks the next step in Obama’s bold program of thawing relations with the country which have ranged from cold to outright hostile since the Caribbean country’s 1959 revolution.
Over the three days of his visit, Obama is expected to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro, though not his predecessor Fidel Castro, as well as free speech and human rights activists.
Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech Tuesday, which is expected to be broadcast live across the country, and will attend a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Cuba’s national team.
His delegation includes business leaders, anxious for a chance to see Cuba opened to investment, along with family members of Jackie Robinson – the first black man to play Major League Baseball and who once played in Cuba as well.
While restrictive sanctions remain in place, the situation between the countries has been steadily warming since 2014 when they agreed to normalize relations after secret negotiations hosted by the Canadian government.
Last summer, they restored diplomatic relations, and Secretary of State John Kerry travelled to Havana where the U.S. flag was raised over a newly reopened U.S. embassy.
The U.S. has also relaxed travel restrictions to Cuba, with up to 110 direct flights to be allowed daily from the U.S.
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes explains why the U.S. has changed it’s Cuba policy