The United States’ record with Cuba since the 1960s has been rough and downright scary at times, and although my generation — the Millennials — never experienced the same fear as our parents did of nuclear war looming over our heads, we understand how incredibly significant Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba is.
My mother used to recount her experiences at school and how her and her classmates would perform drills in case of a nuclear attack. How she would get under her desk, knowing full well that it would never protect her from a nuclear blast. Of course, the main threat during that time was Soviet Russia, but any hostility between the U.S. and Cuba would’ve meant the same outcome.
Now, just decades later, a sitting U.S. President and his family have visited the very country we have for so long proclaimed one of our greatest enemies — and it’s momentous.
During the visit, Obama’s schedule included a tour of Old Havana, meetings with important figures, a visit to an art museum, attending a baseball game with Cuban President Raúl Castro, and delivering a televised speech to the people of Cuba, according to Zack Beauchamp, a staff writer for Vox.
“If this sounds like the normal stuff of a state visit, that’s because it is,” Beauchamp wrote. “But a ‘normal’ meeting, in the long run of US-Cuba relations, is really stunning.”
This visit to Cuba, though the wounds haven’t been completely mended, means that we as a nation are finally beginning to move on. We are coming to terms with the fact that we can no longer simply shut out those we dislike. Like it or not, it’s smart to open relations with Cuba again, because they are our neighbor — and Obama realizes this.
“I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas,” President Obama said in his speech on Tuesday. “I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people.”