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Obama's Cuba visit is a publicity stunt

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

03-22-2016 17:48 BJT

By Gu Jianjun, Post Doctorate, Department of World Development Strategy, Central Compilation and Translation Bureau

US President Barack Obama paid a state visit to Cuba on March 20-22, the first, by a sitting American President since 1928.

Although Obama claimed it was a historic visit, bringing historical opportunities. But this visit has more symbolic meanings than substantial achievements.


The US presidents have always been good at delivering speeches and making publicity stunts. They were the "best actors" on the political stage of the United States. Unsurprisingly, Obama is one of its "best actors".

Accompanied by the First Lady Michelle Obama and his two daughters, Obama appeared quite relaxed during the visit.

During the trip, Obama held formal talks with Cuban President Raul Castro at the Revolution Palace, addressed a gathering at the Havana National Theatre and met with Cuban human rights activists at the US embassy to Cuba.

In addition to these arrangements, Obama toured the Havana Vieja, the capital's historic district, and Havana's Cathedral on the 20th. Obama laid a wreath at a memorial to Cuba's national hero Jose Marti at Revolution Square to pay a tribute to Marti. He also attended a state banquet on the 21st and watched a friendly match between the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team of the United States and Cuba's national baseball team on the 22nd.

This visit was nothing short of a family vacation. Obama performed an excellent show for the whole world to see.

A show for the American people

This visit was designed as a landmark vanity project, which could not only add one more diplomatic heritage for Obama but also add bonus points for the Democratic Party in the ongoing US presidential election.

It is a tradition for the outgoing President to solicit votes for his own party candidates. Since most Americans agree with improving relationship with Cuba, Obama utilized the Cuba visit as an opportunity to further polish the image of the Democratic Party.

A show for Cuban people

Obama represents American culture and values. His ultimate goal is about "changing Cuban society".

To this end, he has meticulously calculated this "diplomatic show". Besides official meetings and events, he is to have more interactions with the local Cubans, including visiting Old Havana, watching a baseball game between the two countries, and meeting anti-Castro dissidents. He also expresses the US’ concern over human rights in Cuba.

Among the arrangements, giving a speech at the Grand Theater of Havana is a highlight. The speech is said to be on the future of the bilateral relations, how Cubans should pursue a better life, and about American values and political democracy.

It's more like a show to the Cuban people, which might be the reason why the White House describes it as "weighed heavily".

A show to the world

Obama admits that the US has failed in its Cuba policies. Ten sessions of the US government had failed to turn over the revolutionary Cuban government, isolate and strangle the Cuban economy, fabricate an opposition faction, and impose a worldwide sanction.

On the contrary, taking Cuba as an enemy has somehow defamed the US itself, making itself a bully and isolating itself from many other countries in Latin America.

In recent years, the General Assembly of the United Nations has overwhelmingly approved a resolution demanding that the US lift the embargo on Cuba, especially in 2014 when only two countries, the US and Israel, used their veto power, which has been a major embarrassment.

Hence, Obama is actively seeking a historic change to make the US-Cuba relations "thaw".

This is also a show for the Latin American countries and the world, demonstrating that Uncle Sam has changed.

But the failure to meet Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, might serve a big disappointment; otherwise, the show would have been perfect.

Although Obama's visit to Cuba has secured much attention, it doesn't solve any real problems. It is more of a "diplomatic show" than a substantive negotiation to reap a result satisfying both.

In fact, there are material barriers between the two counties including the embargo, the Guantanamo territory dispute, and the immigration policy for Cubans, which are hard bones impeding the normalization of the bilateral relations.

There's still no sign of a full lifting of the trade embargo.

On the other hand, the Cuban government has illustrated sufficient confidence over Obama's petty niggling and showed the US that, "We were not afraid of your uncompromising block and sanction, and we are and will not be afraid of your attempting to ‘discolor’ us via such contact."


 Gu Jianjun, Post Doctorate, Department of World Development Strategy, Central Compilation and Translation Bureau


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


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