President Obama announced a historic breakthrough in U.S.-Cuba relations on Wednesday, and everyone has been talking about it — does that mean the reuniting of thousands of Cuban families? Will Cuban cigars now be sold in the U.S. legally? How about a summer vacation at our Southern neighbor's beaches? While these questions will be dealt with as both countries iron out language and terms of the deal in the months to follow, it seems that Obama isn't ruling out a visit to Cuba, either.
According to the Washington Post, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters later that Wednesday that although no such trip has been scheduled for the president, he wouldn't dismiss it as a possibility:
I certainly wouldn’t rule out a presidential visit, but I have nothing to announce at this point.
Earnest also pointed to Obama's visits to China and Myanmar just last month as examples of presidential visits to places that share different human rights values than the U.S. — although in light of recent revelations of CIA interrogation practices, the U.S. doesn't seem to hold itself to terribly high standards either. Earnest said:
It is not unprecedented for us to go places and interact with countries with whom we have a very fundamental difference of opinion about that country's treatment of their citizens.
In an interview with David Muir on ABC on Wednesday, the president said he was open to a Cuban sojourn:
I don’t have any current plans, but let’s see how things evolve.
Earlier that day, Obama announced that the U.S. would re-establish an embassy in Havana and send top American officials to the country, marking a historic move to finally thaw the ice between both countries since Fidel Castro's meteoric rise to leadership. In his speech, the president called Cuba's isolation "a failed approach" that served neither America's interests nor the Cuban people. Cuba released Alan Gross and over 50 American prisoners as part of the deal.
It's somewhat bemusing, though, as Earnest highlighted the country's tourist attractions, not mere diplomacy reasons, as what would compel the president to pay it a visit, not unlike the romanticized — or as Ryan Kearny at The New Republic put it, fetishized — view of Cuba that many Americans hold:
Like many Americans, he has seen that Cuba is a place where they have a beautiful climate and a lot of fun things to do. So, if there's an opportunity for the president to visit, I'm sure he wouldn't turn it down.
On Tuesday, Obama talked to the Cuban president Raul Castro for 45 minutes in a long, unprecedented phone call between the leaders of two countries whose historically strained relations lost purpose — if the embargo even could be considered effective at all — after the Soviet Union's fall.
ABC reported that if Obama does travel to Cuba — vacation or not — he would be only the second sitting president to do so since Calvin Coolidge in 1928, according to the American Presidency Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
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