CARIBBEAN 360 – In a move that would have been unthinkable at the start of his presidency, Barack Obama may well mark his final year in office with a historic trip to communist Cuba, which has been under a US trade embargo for more than 50 years.
The trip would be more likely to materialize if Havana bolstered its human rights record and opened its doors more fully to American business in the coming weeks, a senior advisor to the president said on Saturday.
“The key test,” said deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes, is “whether the president’s going to Cuba would help advance those priorities,” and in particular, whether a visit would “improve the lives of the Cuban people.”
Rhodes was speaking to reporters in Honolulu hours before Obama was due to fly back to Washington from a two-week family vacation in his childhood home state of Hawaii.
The controversial possibility arose as part of a preview of the president’s foreign policy plans for his final year in office, as aides prepared for his return to the White House.