Barack Obama made history this week as he was the first US president to visit the communist island of Cuba since 1928. During his visit he met with Raul Castro and gave a speech to the people of Cuba attempting to offer a hope of a better tomorrow. He implored Cubans to seek change and that “the future of the Cuba has to be in the hands of the Cuban people.”
This American President, desperate for a legacy, visited the small island nation in hopes of showing his base he is capable of bringing change. The Cuban government in response to the more open relationship with the United States made no changes to its authoritarian rule. Each day more Cubans escape the country often on dangerous ocean voyages on small boats. These refugees would rather risk drowning on the open seas than live another day on the oppressive island. Obama made an attempt to appease his party’s base only to make Florida more difficult for Hillary Clinton to win.
During the press conference held Monday, Cuban dictator Raul Castro openly criticized the United States comparing his country’s “Free” health care, education, and equal pay for women to a faulty democratic and capitalistic system. Of course in preparation for Obama’s visit Raul’s zealous supporters brutally beat and imprisoned peaceful protesters. Their only crime was seeking peace and real change on the island.
Castro’s belligerence was on full display when during the press conference CNN reporter Jim Acosta asked about the political prisoners. Raul’s response was “Give me a list and I’ll release them. If we have those political prisoners they will be released before tonight ends.” The list was given and reports of the political prisoners release have yet to be printed.
Obama’s visit might give hope to the people of Cuba as this may be the first time messages of freedom have been broadcast publicly. Any chance of real change will come when the people rise above the fear and embrace their hopeful future.