Above: US President Barack Obama
By the Caribbean Journal staff
United States President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, a speech which included the country’s recent thawing of relations with Cuba.
Obama addressed the United States’ recent rapprochement with the Caribbean island after more than a half-century without diplomatic relations.
“In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date,” Obama said. “When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new.”
Obama said his shift on Cuba policy, which includes plans to establish an Embassy on the island and has already overhauled travel regulations, “has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people.”
He urged the incoming Congress to “begin the work of ending the embargo.”
“As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of ‘small steps,” he said. “These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba.”
Obama also directly addressed USAID subcontractor Alan Gross, who was freed from a Cuban prison as part of the rapprochement.
“After years in prison, we’re overjoyed that Alan Gross is back where he belongs,” he said. “Welcome home, Alan.”