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Obama was received at José Martí International Airport by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla. Photo:Ismael Francisco

United States President Barack H. Obama arrived in Havana yesterday afternoon, March 20, to undertake an official visit to the country, accompanied by his spouse Michelle, his daughters Malia and Sasha, and his mother-in-law, as well as several members of his cabinet and Congress.

The President was received at Havana’s José Martí International Airport by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla; Cuban ambassador in the U.S. José Ramón Cabañas; and Jeffrey De­Laurentis, U.S. embassy chargé d’affaires, among other figures.

With a steady rain falling, the U.S. President, his family and delegation visited several sites of cultural interest in Havana’s central historic visit yesterday afternoon, accompanied by City Historian Eusebio Leal Bajo – declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982 .

The first stop of the tour was the district’s Plaza de Armas, constructed in 1519, where the President admired Cuban artist Sergio López Mesa’s monument to the country’s founding father Carlos Manuel de Céspedes.

The President’s party visited the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales and the Cathedral where they were received by Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, Catholic Archbishop of Havana.

Preseident Obama’s plans for today include an official meeting with Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of Cuba’s Councils of States and Ministers; a visit to the José Martí Memorial; and a meeting with Cuban and U.S. businesspeople.

His last day will include a baseball game between the Cuban national team and the U.S. major league team, the Tampa Bay Rays.

Obama is the first U.S. President to visit the island in 88 years, and the first since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

Obama’s visit is taking place 15 months after the process of reestablishing diplomatic relations was initiated by the two Presidents, December 17, 2014, and he will have the opportunity to observe a country committed to peace, solidarity and resistance in the face of adversity which it has been obliged to face, as well as a proud people defending its national identity and struggling for a better future with all and for the good of all.

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