President Obama plans to visit Cuba next month, making him the first sitting president to visit the island nation since Calvin Coolidge did in 1928, according to ABC News
In a piece on Medium
, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes says the president will travel to Havana, Cuba with the first lady from March 21-22. Rhodes explains that the U.S. policy of isolation toward Cuba "wasn't working and was well beyond its expiration date."
"Cuba’s political system did not change," Rhodes writes. "The United States was isolated within our own hemisphere — and in the wider world — which disagreed with our approach. Most importantly, our policy was not making life better for the Cuban people — and in many ways, it was making it worse."
Rhodes says Obama is traveling to the island to "open up more opportunities for U.S. businesses and travelers to engage with Cuba" and for "the Cuban government to open up more opportunities for its people to benefit from the engagement." Ultimately, the administration also wants Congress to lift the embargo.
"Even as we pursue normalization, we’ve made clear that we will continue to have serious differences with the Cuban government — particularly on human rights," Rhodes says. "...While we do not seek to impose change on Cuba, we strongly believe that Cuba will benefit when the Cuban people can exercise their universal rights. President Obama has raised these issues in his discussions with President Castro, and will continue to do so."
Read the rest of Rhodes' take on Medium here