In lieu of The Obama’s historic trip to Cuba, on Tuesday (March 22) the commander in chief spoke at the Gran Teatro de la Habana in Havana. Before he addressed what the future looks like for the US and Cuba, he discussed the tumultuous political climate between the two countries he hopes his visit will amend.
“I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas. I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people,“ he said. “The differences between our governments over these many years are real and they are important. I’m sure President Castro would say the same thing — I know, because I’ve heard him address those differences at length. But before I discuss those issues, we also need to recognize how much we share. Because in many ways, the United States and Cuba are like two brothers who’ve been estranged for many years, even as we share the same blood. “
Obama went onto state some of the problems both countries have had, essentially describing how such issues have existed since he has been born.
Like so many people in both of our countries, my lifetime has spanned a time of isolation between us. The Cuban Revolution took place the same year that my father came to the United States from Kenya. The Bay of Pigs took place the year that I was born. The next year, the entire world held its breath, watching our two countries, as humanity came as close as we ever have to the horror of nuclear war. As the decades rolled by, our governments settled into a seemingly endless confrontation, fighting battles through proxies. In a world that remade itself time and again, one constant was the conflict between the United States and Cuba.
Yet despite all the political disorder both countries have endured, there is still light at the end of tunnel.
“What the United States was doing was not working. We have to have the courage to acknowledge that truth,” he affirms. “A policy of isolation designed for the Cold War made little sense in the 21st century. The embargo was only hurting the Cuban people instead of helping them. And I’ve always believed in what Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the fierce urgency of now” — we should not fear change, we should embrace it.”
Take a look at the full speech below.