Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Obama makes a surprise visit to a Cuban community church

29 May 2015, 11:14

Miami - President Barack Obama paid a surprise visit on Thursday to a Miami religious shrine popular with Cuban exiles, amid moves by Washington and Havana to normalise ties after five decades of enmity.

"The president is visiting the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Miami to pay his respects to the Cuban-American diaspora that worships there," said Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council spokeswoman.

"He will honour the sacrifices that Cuban-Americans have made in their pursuit of liberty and opportunity, as well as their extraordinary contributions to our country."

The visit carries dual political significance.

The Catholic Church, up to and including Pope Francis has been deeply involved in efforts to thaw ties between Havana and Washington.

Francis will visit the White House in September.

Meanwhile, many of Miami's older, more conservative Cuban emigre population, who still play an outsized role in US electoral politics, are skeptical about Obama's moves to restore ties with the Communist island.

The White House will want to reassure them Obama's motives are noble.

Inside the shrine, Obama stood before a vast brown and cream mural depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Christopher Columbus and Cuban national hero Jose Marti.


It is an "obvious attempt to show deference for the Cuban-American community, while he continues to pursue his controversial policy of engaging the Castro regime," said Sebastian Arcos, of Florida International University's Cuban Research Institute.

That policy will take a step forward on Friday, when Cuba is due to be taken off the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The move is part of an effort to reestablish embassies, which appeared to have stalled last week as the latest round of talks reached no deal.

"Our two governments continue to discuss the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and opening embassies in Havana, including different matters that relate to how our embassies will operate," said White House spokesperson Eric Schultz.

Also read: US pressing Cuba to restore diplomatic ties

Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed in December to seek a normalisation of relations frozen for five decades.

The pair held a historic first meeting in Panama last April.

But the island is still subject to a US trade embargo put in place in 1962, which Obama has called on Congress to lift.

Polls show a majority of Americans support Obama's efforts to improve ties.

According to a Pew survey from early this year, 63% of Americans want to re-establish diplomatic ties and 66% favour ending the embargo.

With Floridian politicians Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush running for the Republican White house nomination, ties with Cuba are sure to be a major issue come election time.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
ODM beats Jubilee in 3 by-electio...

ODM dominates Jubilee Party in by elections.

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Kenyan ivory seized in Vietnam

Vietnamese authorities have seized 1 tonne of ivory smuggled from Kenya, the fifth such seizure in the past month. Read more...

Submitted by
Cyril Mike Odhiz
Kenyans furious on young lady aft...

A young Kenyan woman is the talk of town after she posted a photo with her elderly lover after a round of steamy sex, or so the photo suggested.  Read more...

Submitted by
Kiplangat langat
Uhuru could be a one term Presid...

Bomet governor Isaac Ruto has said that President Uhuru Kenyatta could be a one term President if he fails to increase allocations to the counties. Read more...

Submitted by
Mody Sammy
35 year old farmer a new milliona...

A 35 year old farmer from Mpeketoni Lamu county has become the latest millionaire in town as she became winner in the ongoing ‘Shinda Mamili na Story Ibambe’. Read more...

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Leave your past relationship bagg...

Leave your past relationship baggage at the door when you start a new relationship. Read more...