President Barack Obama is to arrive in Cuba on Sunday. It will be the first visit to Cuba by a US president in almost 90 years.
“Part of the reason for going on the trip and for going on the trip earlier in the year is to utilize it to accelerate the process of normalization, to speak directly to the Cuban people about what the President’s vision for normalization is, and to continue to create openings for greater engagement between the American and Cuban people,” said Senior Advisor Ben Rhodes.
Cuba and Cubans have taken measures to ensure a positive visit for the president. Welcome signs have been posted all around Old Havana. City officials have increased security and roads have even been paved over in anticipation for Obama’s visit.
The sentiment towards his trip to Cuba is less positive back home. Even though Obama took executive action to loosen travel and trade restrictions between the two countries, Congress still refuses to lift the trade embargo of Cuba. There seems to be little hope of that changing any time soon.
The private sector, on the other hand, seems to be on his side. Lobbyists for major businesses, particularly the agricultural industry, are hoping to use Obama’s trip to promote and publicize the economic advantages of improved relations with Cuba. Lobbyists from Akin Gump, the nation’s largest lobby firm, and representatives of agriculture industry groups and companies will be traveling to Havana in an effort to advance two-way trade between the countries.
“With the president’s visit, this is a launching point,” said Devry Boughner Vorwerk, a lobbyist at Akin Gump, “It will significantly change the commercial relationship between the U.S. and Cuba and with companies. Engagement builds the confidence of investors and those that want to trade with Cuba.”