HAVANA – The Cuban Council of Churches said on Monday that it “hails and celebrates” U.S. President Barack Obama’s March 21-22 visit to the island, which it called “advantageous” for both countries, the region and the world.
“We appreciate that this visit is being made from positions of mutual respect and recognition of the sovereignty of the peoples, the cultures and the specifics of each nation,” said the Council, which represents the community of Protestant and evangelical churches, along with other religious institutions, on the communist island.
The Council said that Obama’s visit, the first by a sitting U.S. president to Cuba in 88 years, is an “important ... step” in the normalization of relations, which can positively affect both nations and all of Latin America, according to the communique published by the island’s state-run media on Sunday.
The Council said that many Cuban churches have been a “bridge of friendship” between Cubans and Americans in seeking the normalization of bilateral relations.
Obama announced on Feb. 18 that he will travel to Cuba with first Lady Michelle Obama with the aim of furthering the advances made with the bilateral rapprochement begun in December 2014, and he said that he will push for improvements in human rights on the island.
The U.S. leader is scheduled to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro, members of civil society and businessmen, but he is not expected to sit down with former Cuban President Fidel Castro.