Obama Will Travel to Cuba in March to 'Advance Our Progress and Efforts' in the Country

Obama to Visit Cuba in March
President Barack Obama
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

02/18/2016 AT 11:00 AM EST

President Barack Obama will travel to Cuba next month – a trip that will make him the first sitting U.S. president in 90 years to do so.

Joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, the president will visit the island nation on March 21st and 22nd, before continuing on to Argentina on the 23rd and 24th, the White House said in a statement Thursday.

The landmark trip comes just 14 months after Obama announced plans to begin to normalize relations with Cuba, and following the president's decision to reopen the U.S. embassy in the country last July.

"In addition to holding a bilateral meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro, President Obama will engage with members of civil society, entrepreneurs and Cubans from different walks of life," the release said.



Obama hopes the trip will further demonstrate the White House's commitment to improving the historically tenuous relationship between Cuba and America.

The president also shared plans for the visit on Twitter, writing, "14 months ago, I announced that we would begin normalizing relations with Cuba – and we've already made significant progress."

He continued, "Our flag flies over our Embassy in Havana once again. More Americans are traveling to Cuba than at any time in the last 50 years."

"We still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly. America will always stand for human rights around the world," the 54-year-old wrote. "Next month, I'll travel to Cuba to advance our progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people."







In Argentina, the Obamas will go to capital Buenos Aires to meet with the country's new president, Mauricio Macri.

"The President will deepen efforts to increase cooperation between our governments in a range of areas, including trade and investment, renewable energy and climate change, and citizen security," the White House said.

Republicans were quick to condemn the news, with GOP candidates like Marco Rubio promising during CNN's presidential town hall on Wednesday never to visit Cuba until it was "free."

"The problem with the Cuban government is that it's not just a Communist dictatorship; it's an anti-American Communist dictatorship," said Rubio, whose parents are Cuban exiles.

Ted Cruz, whose father fled Cuba for Canada as a teenager, called the trip a "real mistake," and Jeb Bush told Fox News that it's a "tragedy" that Obama is "legitimizing" the Castro family.
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