The U.S. and Cuban presidents are meeting in Havana for the first time in 88 years.
CCTV America’s Michael Voss reports.
The American national anthem was playing out over Havana’s Revolution square, the center of power in communist Cuba. And with Che Guevara looking on, U.S. President Barack Obama paid tribute to Jose Marti, the hero of Cuba’s independence war against Spain.
Then came the long awaiting meeting with Cuba’s President Raul Castro, a critical moment that could determine how much further this new relationship can progress, After half a century of hostilities, there are many outstanding differences on both sides.
Many wondered if this end up as a tense encounter, the body language suggested otherwise. Their discussions lasted for more than am hour, afterwards both leaders spoke to the press.
Both addressed the profound differences that remain over issues from human rights to the U.S. trade embargo. But both agreed that engagement was the best way forward.
President Raul Castro said, “Today I reaffirm that we should exercise the art of civilized coexistence, which involves accepting and respecting differences and preventing these from becoming the center of our relationship.”
President Obama said,”I guess ultimately what this comes down to is that I have faith in people. I think that if you meet Cubans here and Cubans meet Americans and they are meeting and talking and interacting and doing business together and going to school together and learning from each other then they will recognize people are people, and in that context I believe that change will occur.”
President Obama is expected to expand on this theme in a keynote speech on Tuesday morning outlining his vision for the future. The speech will be televised live here in Cuba.
Crowds of cheering Cubans lined the streets as the U.S. motorcade sped toward the next engagement, a business forum.
This brought together Cuba’s new entrepreneurs and managers of state-run enterprises along with U.S. officials and business leaders. Obama spoke of the benefits of entrepreneurship to the Cuban economy and U.S. interest in the market.
The final engagement of the day was a state banquet, hosted by President Raul Castro, including First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters.
Foreign service professor Michael Shifter on Obama’s trip to Cuba
CCTV America’s Mike Walter interviewed Michael Shifter, the president of the Inter-American Dialogue and a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service about the U.S. and Cuban presidents meeting.
Lecturer Arturo Lopez Levy on Obama’s trip to Cuba
CCTV America’s Mike Walter interviewed Arturo Lopez Levy, a lecturer at the University of Texas about Obama’s trip to Cuba.