As President Obama continues his visit to Cuba — making him the first sitting president to visit the country in more than 90 years — IU experts have weighed in on the historic significance of the trip and what it could mean for the future of both countries.
Lee Hamilton, a former Indiana congressman and a professor of practice in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, said Obama’s visit signals a new era.
“Our hope is that the president will speak out for greater freedom, both political and economic freedom in Cuba, and begin to press for change in that country,” Hamilton said in the release.
Gerardo Gonzalez, dean emeritus of the IU School of Education, is a Cuban-American whose family fled Cuba in 1952. Gonzalez visited Cuba as part of a higher education delegation, and he said he hopes for a prosperous relationship between the two countries despite understanding the cultural complications.
“I can only hope that through increased contact, better understanding and lots of education, the people of both nations will grow and prosper in a mutually beneficial and peaceful, if yet uncertain, new future,” Gonzalez said in an IU press release.
Hamilton said he hopes the visit can heal some of the damage from the past.
“I’m very pleased that the American public seems to lopsidedly support the new initiatives toward Cuba,” Hamilton said in the press release. “We in the United States have to have confidence that over time as we engage more with the Cuban people politically, diplomatically, economically, that Cuba will move in the right direction. We have to chip away at the distress that has built up over the decades.”