While Barack Obama’s announcement of a planned trip to Cuba next month wasn’t a surprise, it still sent shockwaves throughout the region.
But how did Cuba respond?
The early returns seem positive, according to Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, director general of the US section of Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, who said Obama would be “welcomed by the government of Cuba and its people.”
“This visit will be a step towards improving relations between Cuba and the United States,” she said.
She also said the visit would be an opportunity to continue exchange on the possibilities of expanding dialogue and cooperation between the two sides.
“The visit will also be an opportunity to ratify the will of the Cuban government to continue making progress in building a new relationship based on the observance of the principles and purposes of the United Nations National Charter and principles of Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace,” she said.
But she also noted Cuba’s biggest “outstanding” issues, including the lifting of the embargo and Cuba’s demand that the Guantanamo Bay naval base be returned to Cuba — a base she called “territory illegally occupied.”