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Obama visited Cuba
By Jerry Brownstein
US President Barack Obama’s trip to Cuba in 2016 was a very big step in the efforts to mend relations between these two neighbouring countries. The visit was made possible when Obama's administration formally reopened ties with Havana in late 2014, following over 50 years of alienation. The US and Cuba had been closely linked for the first half of the 20th century, but friction began to build in 1959 when Fidel Castro’s revolution overthrew the dictator Fulgencio Batista. Diplomatic relations were broken off in 1961, and they became enemies throughout the Cold War. There are about two million Americans of Cuban descent, mostly living in Florida which is close to Cuba. The majority of them are happy to have closer ties with the land of their ancestors, but others still hold grudges from the past against the Castro regime.
Obama was eager to make rapid progress on building trade and diplomatic ties with Cuba before he left office in early 2017. The Republicans in the US Congress were against these moves, but the President remained steadfast saying: "14 months ago, I announced that we would begin normalizing relations with Cuba – and we've already made significant progress. Our flag flies over our Embassy in Havana once again, and more Americans are travelling to Cuba than at any time in the last 50 years."
During the visit Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro, as well as entrepreneurs and different members of Cuban society. He even attended a baseball game between the Cuban National Team and a professional American team. Cuban officials reacted positively to the trip saying, “President Barack Obama was welcomed by the government of Cuba and the Cuban people with our traditional hospitality. His visit represents a step forward in relations between Cuba and the US.” Jim McGovern, a US Congressman of the Democratic party, echoed those sentiments saying, “Obama's trip will help close the book on the outdated Cold War policy that has divided us for so many years.”