Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

From the White House: “A Historic Meeting”

Over the weekend, President Obama traveled to Panama City for the Summit of the Americas. The White House reports:

This past week, President Obama participated in the seventh Summit of the Americas, in Panama City, Panama. The Summit of the Americas is a tradition that brings together the leaders of North and South America to discuss issues that impact the Americas. President Obama’s participation in the Summit highlights the continuing commitment of the U.S. to upholding the role that independent civil society and the private sector play in a shared democratic agenda.

While in Panama City, President Obama participated in a CEO summit along with prominent business executives and heads of state from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago.

During the Summit, President Obama sat down with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. The two discussed shared priorities, like food security and climate change.

President Obama also sat down with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela to discuss the partnership between the U.S. and Panama on security, the economy, and education, and how they could further deepen ties between the two countries.

Additionally, in a historic first, President Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro, in their first full meeting since the U.S. decided to chart a new course in relations with Cuba.

President Barack Obama participates in a pull-aside with Cuban President Raul Castro during the Summit of the Americas Second Plenary Session at the Atlapa Convention Center in Panama City, Panama, April 11, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

President Obama and President Castro discussed our shared histories, and the significant change in policy and the relationship between our two countries. Both leaders agreed that the majorities of the American people and Cuban people had responded positively to the thaw in relations.

“This is obviously a historic meeting.”

– President Obama on his first full meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro

President Obama announced that both Cuba and America were working on the next step in normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, and were working to open embassies in both Havana and Washington, D.C.

Transcript: Remarks by President Obama and President Raul Castro of Cuba Before Meeting

TLAPA Convention Center, Panama City, Panama, 2:46 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  This is obviously a historic meeting.  The history between the United States and Cuba is obviously complicated, and over the years a lot of mistrust has developed.  But during the course of the last several months, there have been contacts between the U.S. and the Cuban government.  And in December, as a consequence of some of the groundwork that had been laid, both myself and President Castro announced a significant change in policy and the relationship between our two governments.

I think that after 50 years of policy that had not changed on the part of the United States, it was my belief that it was time to try something new, that it was important for us to engage more directly with the Cuban government and the Cuban people.  And as a consequence, I think we are now in a position to move on a path towards the future, and leave behind some of the circumstances of the past that have made it so difficult, I think, for our countries to communicate.

Already we’ve seen majorities of the American people and the Cuban people respond positively to this change.  And I truly believe that as more exchanges take place, more commerce and interactions resume between the United States and Cuba, that the deep connections between the Cuban people and the American people will reflect itself in a more positive and constructive relationship between our governments.

Now, obviously there are still going to be deep and significant differences between our two governments.  We will continue to try to lift up concerns around democracy and human rights.  And as you heard from President Castro’s passionate speech this morning, they will lift up concerns about U.S. policy as well.

But I think what we have both concluded is that we can disagree with the spirit of respect and civility, and that over time it is possible for us to turn the page and develop a new relationship in our two countries.

And some of our immediate tasks include normalizing diplomatic relations and ultimately opening an embassy in Havana, and Cuba being able to open an embassy in Washington, D.C. so that our diplomats are able to interact on a more regular basis.

So I want to thank President Castro for the spirit of openness and courtesy that he has shown during our interactions.  And I think if we can build on this spirit of mutual respect and candidness, that over time we will see not just a transformation in the relationship between our two countries, but a positive impact throughout the hemisphere and the world.

And President Castro earlier today spoke about the significant hardships that the people of Cuba have undergone over many decades.  I can say with all sincerity that the essence of my policy is to do whatever I can to make sure that the people of Cuba are able to prosper and live in freedom and security, and enjoy a connection with the world where their incredible talents and ingenuity and hard work can thrive.

PRESIDENT CASTRO:  (As interpreted.)  Well, Mr. President, friends from the press, we have been making long speeches and listening to many long speeches too, so I do not want to abuse the time of President Obama or your time.

I think that what President Obama has just said, it’s practically the same as we feel about the topics, including human rights, freedom of the press.  We have said on previous occasions to some American friends that we are willing to discuss every issue between the United States and Cuba.  We are willing to discuss about those issues that I have mentioned and about many others, as these — both in Cuba but also in the United States.

I think that everything can be on the table.  I think that we can do it, as President Obama has just said, with respect for the ideas of the other.  We could be persuaded of some things; of others, we might not be persuaded.  But when I say that I agree with everything that the President has just said, I include that we have agreed to disagree.  No one should entertain illusions.  It is true that we have many differences.  Our countries have a long and complicated history, but we are willing to make progress in the way the President has described.

We can develop a friendship between our two peoples.  We shall continue advancing in the meetings which are taking place in order to reestablish relations between our countries.  We shall open our embassies.  We shall visit each other, having exchanges, people to people.  And all that matters is what those neighbors can do; we are close neighbors, and there are many things that we can have.

So we are willing to discuss everything, but we need to be patient — very patient.  Some things we will agree on; others we will disagree.  The pace of life at the present moment in the world, it’s very fast.  We might disagree on something today on which we could agree tomorrow.  And we hope that our closest assistants — part of them are here with us today — we hope that they will follow the instructions of both Presidents.

Thank you so much.


2:57 P.M. EST


Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.


  1. Tweeted yesterday:

    Daniel Larison @DanielLarison

    “Too many of our leaders and their ideas are stuck in the 20th century,” said the loudest defender of the Cuban embargo

  2. Diana in NoVa

    It’s about time we were on speakers with Cuba again. If we can have diplomatic relations with countries as creepy-crappy as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China, we should certainly have them with Cuba.  

  3. Breaking News: Democrats Pawned Again!!!

    BREAKING NEWS Tuesday, April 14, 2015 11:13 AM EDT

    Senate Panel Deal Paves Way for Vote on Iran Nuclear Bill

    The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Tuesday that the panel had reached an accord on a bipartisan bill giving Congress a vote on an international deal to reign in Iran’s nuclear program.

    The compromise measure would shorten a review period for a final deal and soften language that would make the lifting of sanctions dependent on Iran’s ending support for terrorism.

    The deal, struck between Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the committee’s chairman, and Senator Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, its ranking Democrat, still must be voted on this afternoon, but leaders in both parties expressed their support. One senior Democratic aide said the bill would now have overwhelming, veto-proof support.


  4. From the White House

    In a formal notice to Congress, Obama said a State Department review determined that Cuba — added to the terrorism list in 1982 — met the requirements for removal.

    Cuba “has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding 6-month period,” and has offered “assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future,” the president told lawmakers.

    Carrot accepted, threat of stick removed. This is called “playing by the rules”. Isn’t that the reason for the rules, to change behaviours?

    Apparently not, as right wing heads asplode

    Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, both sons of Cuban immigrants, and Jeb Bush condemned Obama’s plan as yet another bad move toward restoring diplomatic ties with the Communist nation.

    How dare he restore ties with a country 90 miles off our southern border??? Does he want to promote peace and junk???

Comments are closed.