At last night’s excruciatingly awkward CNN GOP Town Hall, the Republican presidential candidates addressed reports that President Obama would pop over to Cuba. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both of Cuban descent, didn’t approve of the idea. Cruz (who earlier reasserted his U.S. citizenship) said, “[Obama’s] allowing billions of dollars to go to tyrants who hate America.” Further, Cruz believes Obama would visit Cuba to “essentially act as an apologist.” Rubio (who said he was “taunted” as a child to “go back on your boat”) said Obama should not visit the country until it was a “free Cuba.”
Regardless of the GOP’s thoughts, Obama will become the first U.S. president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge did in 1928. Obama’s visit will cap off 14 months of efforts after he ordered the U.S. to restore diplomatic ties. Last year, the Cuban embassy reopened in Washington, D.C., and this visit will be a historic one. Human Rights Watch — which has remained highly critical of how Cuba continued Fidel Castro’s reign of repression under his brother, Raul — has acknowledged Obama’s efforts to normalize relations between the two countries.
On Thursday morning, Obama made his official Cuba visit announcement (as one does) on Twitter. He hopes the visit will help “improve the lives of the Cuban people” after “significant progress” has already been made: