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Obama Urges Cubans To Look To Positive, Democratic Future

Obama, Castro Discuss Economic Blockade, Human Rightsi
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March 22, 2016
As U.S. President Barack Obama continued his historic visit to Cuba on March 21, Cuban President Raul Castro called for the lifting of the U.S. economic embargo, which he said would be essential to normalizing relations. Speaking alongside Castro in Havana, Obama said that the countries' ties "will not be transformed overnight," and that the United States will continue to push for human rights reforms in Cuba. (AP)
WATCH: Obama, Castro Discuss Economic Blockade, Human Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Cubans to seek a positive future with the United States after calling his historic visit to the communist country a moment to "bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas."

Obama said in a speech on March 22 attended by President Raul Castro and broadcast on Cuban television that he wants Cubans to move past the "blind optimism" that the country's problems will disappear while praising the freedoms offered in a democratic system.

"Many suggested that I come here and ask the people of Cuba to tear something down," Obama said in a speech in which he used some Spanish phrases. "But I'm appealing to the young people of Cuba who will lift something up -- build something new."

Obama's speech was met with approval by many Cubans who watched it.

"We agree with everything he said in the speech," said Barbara Ugarte, 45, a gift shop owner.

Her co-worker, Omardy Isaac, said "Cubans need all of their rights and I am in favor of democracy."

Obama -- who is on the first trip to Cuba by a U.S. president in 88 years -- later met with a group of dissidents and later watched a baseball game between a U.S. major league squad and the Cuban national team while sitting next to Castro.

Obama's Latin American trip continues on March 23 in Argentina.

Based on reporting by AP, CNN, and Reuters

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