Oh, Obama! Go to Havana

I do not know where they learned Spanish, but those tourists chanted this phrase in such a perfectly understandable way that it is now used as the title of this article.

From Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) to Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961); from John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) to Barack Obama (2009- ), 19 U.S. presidents have passed through the White House and none have officially visited Cuba as an independent country. Everyone is asking what Obama will do, although they doubt that he actually wants to do it. It would be one of those cases where the press could freely, and with all professional justification, use the adjective “historic.”

A few days ago, facing a question from the Cuban television journalist Cristina Escobar in the White House about whether President Obama would be able to visit Cuba, press secretary Josh Earnest, responded: “I know that it would please him to have the opportunity to visit the island of Cuba and in particular, Havana.” On May 11, Earnest, to clarify misinformation that President Obama would visit Cuba, said that it wasn’t imminent, but did not rule out that that the visit could occur before the end of his term.

Since President Obama and President Raúl Castro began to break through barriers, a visit has been a constant possibility in the press. It is logical, it is the right thing. Obama and Raúl greeted each other with a great symbolic handshake during the funeral of South African leader Nelson Mandela; afterward they spoke extensively by phone to seal the informed agreements of Dec. 17, 2014 and reunited publicly and in private during the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama.

What is missing? A visit by the U.S. president to Cuba, where the leaders can conduct official business. Of course Cuban President Raúl Castro could visit the United States; either as part of a bilateral meeting, or as an agenda item of a meeting of an international organization with headquarters in that country, like commander-in-chief Fidel Castro did many times as president, and as chairman of the nonaligned nations.

A trip to Cuba by President Obama would have a major impact on American institutions. This would be the most influential political visit by an administration. A visit from Obama, who is, according to Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the supreme commander of the Army and Navy of the United States, would end all speculation about the “danger” and military “threat” of Cuba, and would confirm as ridiculous the staging of illegal trafficking of weapons and biochemical manufacturing for attacks from Bejucal or Jaruco against the neighboring country of the United States.

The U.S. president does not make a friendly visit to a country that is at war with it, a country that is considered to be a threat to his nation. The presence of Obama in Cuba would force lawmakers to take note of the message; especially given the context in which it is felt that the embassies should already be open, and that Cuba should be removed from the infamous list of countries that sponsor terrorism; and given that other important visits have come before, such as those of Vice President Biden or Secretary of State Kerry. On the other hand, it is possible that President Obama would not travel alone.

Who would accompany him? Perhaps the first lady, his top advisers, businessmen, a state governor, probably representatives of the art world, sports and academics.

No one, not even his biggest critic, would reject an invitation to join the U.S. presidential delegation making a first official visit to Cuba.

Of course, this would cause a big fuss in some extremist Miami circles. Although it is also assumed that the sensationalist press, critical since Dec. 17, 2014, would now have to eat its words in the presence of the powerful presidential initiative presented by Obama. Similarly, Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, in blasphemous remarks in Miami against the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States, would have no choice but to moderate her comments, and delegate criticism to Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, as he did with former Florida Rep. David Rivera, who joined in such anti-Cuban remarks, and in that way Ros-Lehtinen can look more or less decent before the Foreign Relations Committee in Congress.

Once the president of the United States travels to Cuba, many fears will vanish forever. There are many good people, but extremists in Miami have relinquished their blackmail, and now, freed from the constraints of the past, will be able to express the respect they feel for Cuba notwithstanding the geographical distance.

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