Barack Obama plans to make a debut visit to Cuba in March, making him the first active US president to visit the country in over 80 years. The official plans will be announced on 18 February and will outline his motives for the historic visit.
The stop in Cuba is part of the POTUS's visit to Latin America during which he will also visit Argentina. "We can confirm that (Thursday) the administration will announce the President's travel to Latin America, including Cuba, in the coming weeks," the CNN reported a senior administration official as saying.
The last sitting US president to visit Cuba was Calvin Coolidge, who addressed the Sixth Annual International Conference of American States in Havana in 1928.
In 2014, the US government reopened ties with Havana in a bid to improve relations, when Obama and Cuban president Raúl Castro met in Panama to discuss normalising ties and building diplomatic and trade relations between the old Cold War enemies. Both the countries had then also agreed to a prisoner exchange and the humanitarian release of US contractor Alan Gross.
In August 2015, the US embassy was reopened in Havana and an American flag was hoisted on the property.
Most recently, on 16 February 2016, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Cuba's Minister of Transportation Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez signed an airline transportation agreement that will allow an increase in flights between the US and Cuba, heralding a rise in US tourists to the South American island country.
The Obama government's decision to improve ties with Cuba has not been well-received by some in the US. Presidential candidate Marco Rubio expressed his opposition to Obama's visit. Speaking at a GOP town hall event, the Cuban American said: "Not if it's not a free Cuba. A year and two months after the opening to Cuba, the Cuban government remains as repressive as ever."
Texas Senator Ted Cruz also echoed a similar sentiment while at the same town hall, saying: "I think it's a real mistake. I think the President ought to be pushing for a free Cuba. My family has seen firsthand the evil and the oppression in Cuba. We need a president who stands up to our enemies."