President Barack Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president in almost 90 years to visit Cuba when he and first lady Michelle Obama travel there next month.
The White House Thursday confirmed the visit, which is scheduled for March 21-22. Calvin Coolidge, in 1928, was the last sitting president to visit Cuba.
“In Cuba, the President will work to build on the progress we have made toward normalization of relations with Cuba – advancing commercial and people-to-people ties that can improve the well-being of the Cuban people, and expressing our support for human rights,” press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement disclosing the trip.
Obama’s visit will also include a bilateral meeting with Raul Castro, the president of Cubawho came into power in 2008. Obama moved to re-establish diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. in December 2014.
The Obama administration has called the U.S. government’s decades-long embargo policy as “a failed approach.” Rather than “empowering Cubans to build an open and democratic country,” the White House believes the U.S. has further isolated itself from the country.
The Obama administration is working to establish 110 direct flights per day between the countries. The administration hopes the new flights will expand tourism, strengthen Cuban businesses, and “support the growth of civil society.”
Cuba is located 90 miles south of the Florida Keys. Obama and the first family plan to visit Argentina and meet with President Mauricio Macri after their visit to Cuba.