U.S. President Barack Obama may visit Cuba in 2016, under certain conditions.
In an interview with Yahoo! News, Obama indicated he has told the Castros that, despite the historic re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries earlier this year, he is unlikely to visit the Communist island nation before he leaves office without “progress.”
He first wants to see ordinary Cubans enjoy more personal freedoms.
“I am very much interested in going to Cuba, but I think the conditions have to be right,” Obama said. “And what I’ve said to the Cuban government is ‘If, in fact I with confidence can say that we’re seeing some progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans, I’d love to use a visit as a way of highlighting that progress.'”
“If I go on a visit, then part of the deal is that I get to talk to everybody,” Obama said. “I’ve made very clear in my conversations directly with President [Raul] Castro that we would continue to reach out to those who want to broaden the scope for, you know, free expression inside of Cuba.”
In the interview, which coincided with the anniversary of the announcement that Havana and Washington would restore relations, Obama also defended his aim to close the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but acknowledged that it was unlikely to be handed back to Havana any time soon. The military prison issue is separate from the Naval Station at Guantanamo (GITMO). Obama said the GITMO decision would likely be made by a future president.