Barack Obama’s arrival to Cuba marked a historic turning point for the Caribbean island. The thaw, which began last year thanks to Pope Francis’ decisive mediation, continued with the reopening of the US embassy in Havana and the Cuban embassy in Washington, has come to an end. The posters hung in the streets of the island’s capital, with the face of the American president next to that of Raul Castro, are accompanied by the respective flags and the words “bienvenido in Cuba.” Obama, together with First Lady Michelle and their two daughters Malia and Sasha, will thus be the first dweller of the White House to visit Castro’s ‘kingdom’ since 1928, when Calvin Coolidge inaugurated the Pan-American Congress there.
Their two-day visit, which begins today, is going to be rather busy for the presidential spouses. On Monday, Obama will meet Raul Castro (from the US Administration leaked the news that no meetings are going to take place with his 89-year-old brother Fidel) and talk in front of a public of businessmen. The day after, the president will hold a historic speech in front of the Cubans, which will be broadcasted on television. “It will be a speech to the Cubans, including Cuban-Americans,” explained Advisor for security Ben Rhodes. His program includes a meeting with the dissidents, but there are going to be also moments of entertainment such as participation at the historic baseball match between the Tampa Bay Rays (Florida’s Team) and the Cuban national team.
US President’s visit will not be the only one to officially mark the end of half a century of Cuba’s isolation. Shortly after the Obama family’s departure, on 25, the island will live another big first event, clearing Rolling Stones’s rock with a free concert in Havana’s Ciudad Deportiva, where nearly half a million people are expected. “We’ve played in many special places during our long career. But this concert in Havana is destined to become a landmark event for us and, we hope, for all our Cuban friends,” said the band in a statement. Meanwhile, Cubans prepare to this rebirth spring with great excitement and excitement.
‘Work in progress’ and ‘for sale’ signs multiply in the capital. And for the first time there is a different atmosphere, as confirmed by the owners of the La Moneda Cubana restaurant who were able to hang the unusual poster with Obama’s face next to Castro’s face. “For all I know, a picture of the American president has never been put on a display before”, Miguel Angel Morales says.