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President Obama€s Stop at Summit of Americas Has Cuba in Mind

Brandi Forte | 4/22/2009, 11:17 p.m.

After a 47-year-old U.S. trade embargo, President Obama headed to Trinidad for the 34-nation Summit of Americas seeking a €new beginning€ with Cuba. A gathering that has ostracized Cuba, a communist government, the Obama administration has offered to put aside fiery politics and began serious dialogue with Cuba€s leader, Raul Castro.

Just a year ago, Castro took over leadership from his brother Fidel Castro who is ailing. Castro sent a message to the U.S. government from a Venezuela summit.

€We have sent word to the U.S. government in private and in public that we are willing to discuss everything €" human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners €" everything,€ read Raul Castro€s message.
Earlier this month, Obama lifted restrictions that will now allow Americans to visit, provide gifts including monetary gifts to their relatives in Cuba. Despite criticism from allies, Obama said €I have no doubt there€s more democracy in Cuba.€

€I have Cuban blood, yet America has made it so difficult for me to visit my family or my family to visit me. I believe President Obama is showing a peaceful side to American politics,€ said Voris Leon, who is Afro-Cuban.

Just days earlier, Obama met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon to discuss immigration and trade, and to demonstrate his support against the ongoing battle against drug cartels and the bloodshed that has affected Mexico and America. Obama said that America must do its part to stop the madness.

€A demand for drugs in the United States is what is helping to keep these cartels in business. This war is being waged with guns purchased not here but in the United States,€ Obama said.

The discussion between Obama and Calderon was deemed as progressive by the Obama administration; however Calderon expressed his own thoughts on U.S. and Cuba relations.

€The embargo has been there long before we were even born. Things have not changed all that much in Cuba,€ Calderon said. Obama also stressed that change does not come overnight.

€A relationship that effectively has been frozen for 50 years is not going to thaw overnight. However, he stated that the summit gathering €offers the opportunity of a new beginning, will promote a €jump-start job creation, promote free and fair trade and develop a coordinated response to this economic crisis.€

€This is deeper the economic implications. America must mend the broken relationships that it initiated throughout the world. Cubans and Cuban Americans I€m sure psychologically have been embargoed because they have not been able to communicate or visit their families. Something must be done,€ said Joseph Williams, a therapist who resides in the District.

Obama€s stance on relations with Cuba is part of his ongoing commitment to begin restoring defaulted relationships with the international community.