US President Barack Obama could visit Cuba during final year in office

Posted: 11-Jan-16 19:55

Barack Obama is entering the final leg of his presidency and it is envisioned that he will do a lot of travelling in the course of 2016 before his time at the White House comes to an end. The president hopes to visit Cuba during this time to build on the recently reopened diplomatic ties as part of his legacy.

US President Barack Obama could visit Cuba during final year in office

As the clock ticks down on President Barack Obama’s time in office, he is expected to do a lot of travelling in a bid to shore up his legacy. The US leader has on many occasions stated that trips on the Air Force One are among the perks he enjoys most as holder of the Oval Office.

Back in July 2015 the POTUS made a historic return to his ancestral roots in Kenya as part of an Africa tour that also took him to Uganda and Ethiopia. And a look at the trips scheduled for Obama in the coming months indicate that he’s far from done.

He is expected to complete tours in Europe, Asia and South America before he hands over the keys to the White House. And even when he comes back home he will put in more mileage as he crisscrosses the country drumming up support for the democrat candidate in the upcoming elections. This extensive travel is more or less expected of presidents in their final term in office as this is when they have leeway to get more done in terms of foreign affairs.

One of the top items on Obama’s plate with regards to foreign policy is cementing diplomatic ties with Cuba. He is therefore expected to pencil in a stopover at the Caribbean island as part of his Latin America itinerary. Colombia, Argentina and Peru are other countries included in this tour which is slated for November. The aim of such a visit to Cuba by the president would be to ensure the diplomatic gains made so far are not reversed.

Several strides have been made since the end of 2014 in restoring Cuba-America relations after the 55-year embargo. Though some restrictions remain in place, Americans can obtain permission to visit by the US government. There are 12 categories of visas through which people can be allowed to travel to Cuba.

But before Obama’s trip to Cuba is etched in stone, his team of advisors want to be sure that his presence there will achieve the intended purpose.They will therefore be mulling over the president’s travel plans in the coming few months. Obama himself has however made it clear that he is keen on visiting before his term in office expires.

According to Reuters, The White House will be deciding in the next couple of months whether this potential stopover in Cuba by Obama should and would take place.

While a trip to Cuba by a U.S. president would indeed be historic and the White House is reportedly keen to use that leverage in order to press Cuba to make further reforms, there are a few steps that Cuba still needs to take to show they’re improving their human rights record and spurring the private economy sector further. Giving people more access to the internet would be a good start, according to Ben Rhodes, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor, who also added:

"The key test for us is whether the president’s going to Cuba would help advance those priorities."


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