United State Of America President Barack Obama arrived in Cuba on Sunday on a historic visit, opening a new chapter in U.S. engagement with the Cuban Communist government after almost 10 decades of animosity between both countries.
Obama landed at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport aboard Air Force One, the presidential jet with "United States of America" emblazoned across it. The president immediately tweeted that he had touched down in Cuba.
Stepping down onto the red carpet under the rain, Obama and his family were greeted by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, the top Cuban official present but the current president, Raul Castro wasn't there to meet him. Raul Castro will meet Obama at a formal welcoming ceremony which will be on Monday at the presidential palace.
The president said:
'Back in 1928, President Coolidge came on a battleship, it took him three days to get here. It only took me three hours.
'Having a US embassy means we're more effectively able to advance our values, our interests and understand more effectively.
'This is a historic visit and a historic opportunity. I know it's been a pretty busy seven months. But I want you to know, everything we've accomplished so far, it's all happening because of you. Every day you're bringing the US and Cuba closer together.'
Speaking to diplomatic staff, he added:
'I'm so glad you brought your families here because I always like taking pictures with kids. Their future is what we all work for so hard and I'm so grateful to all of you for making it happen.'
The Obamas then took in the sights of Old Havana, drawing cheers from small crowds of Cubans and foreign tourists. Obama was also hosted on a tour of Havana's 18th century cathedral by Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who played a key role in secret talks that led to the rapprochement 15 months ago.
"It's a historic opportunity to engage directly with the Cuban people," Obama told U.S. diplomats.
This visit makes Obama the first sitting American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge arrived on a battleship in 1928.
The Cuban people are hoping Obama would advice Cuban president Raul Castro to treat people more humanely, create jobs, freedom and create basic human rights to Cubans.
"Neither President Obama, nor the Cuban people, expect spectacular changes," Sanchez said. "These kinds of regimes are repressive. It's necessary to maintain their power. So no matter what Obama says or does, it's impossible to put a good face on the human rights situation here in Cuba."