President Obama has become the first U.S. president to visit Cuba [reuters.com] since long before the Cuban embargo began:
President Barack Obama embarked on Sunday on a historic trip to Cuba where a Communist government that vilified the United States for decades prepared a red-carpet welcome. Lifting off from Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, Obama headed for Havana where the sight of Air Force One, America's iconic presidential jet, touching down on Cuban soil would have been unimaginable not long ago.
The three-day trip, the first by a U.S. president in 88 years, is the culmination of a diplomatic opening announced by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in December 2014, ending a Cold War-era estrangement that began when the Cuban revolution ousted a pro-American government in 1959. Obama, who abandoned a longtime U.S. policy of trying to isolate Cuba internationally, now wants to make his shift irreversible. But major obstacles remain to full normalization of ties.
Ahead of Obama's arrival, plainclothes police blanketed the capital with security while public works crews busily laid down asphalt in a city where drivers joke they must navigate "potholes with streets." Welcome signs with images of Obama alongside Castro popped up in colonial Old Havana, where the president and his family will tour later on Sunday.