The president will visit Cuba as part of a Latin American tour next month:
The US president confirmed his Cuba trip in a post on Twitter, saying: “Next month, I’ll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people.”
Obama’s visit will be significant in that he will be the first American president in almost ninety years to visit the country. At the same time, this is just the sort of trip that should be and will become routine and unremarkable now that relations with Havana have been restored. It would have been strange for Obama to normalize relations with Cuba and not go there. Not only is Cuba normalization one of the president’s more notable foreign policy successes, but it is also one that is most in danger of being undone by a Republican successor. It makes sense that he would want to go to promote his Cuba policy and to make the dead-ender objections of Rubio, Cruz, et al. seem even more absurd.
Hard-liners will undoubtedly criticize the visit and say that it is “rewarding” the Cuban government, but then they say this about any diplomatic engagement with authoritarian regimes. This is the wrong way to look at it. Improved relations with a neighboring country are clearly in U.S. interests, and the U.S. has deprived itself of the benefits of closer ties for decades. By restoring ties and continuing to work on a better bilateral relationship, the president will be refusing to deprive the U.S. of the advantages of a normal relationship with Cuba, and he’ll be laying the groundwork for the eventual lifting of the outdated and useless embargo.