Obama in Cuba for historic visit

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

HAVANA (AP) - President Barack Obama says his trip to Cuba is an "historic opportunity to engage with the Cuban people."

Obama spoke to a few dozen embassy staff and families at a Havana hotel in his first stop after arriving in Cuba. He says it's wonderful to be in Cuba and is noting that an American president hasn't stepped foot in Cuba in nearly 90 years.

Obama is recalling former President Calvin Coolidge's visit in 1928, when he arrived in a battleship. Obama says it took Coolidge three days to get to Cuba, but only took him three hours.

Obama is singling out three Cubans who have worked at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Cuba for decades: a guard, driver and a worker from the visa section. He says they bring the Cuban and American people together. Before the U.S. reopened its embassy, it had only a U.S. interests sections in Havana.

Obama is thanking people for bringing their children to meet him, saying he hopes that by the time they're adults, they'll "think it's natural that a U.S. president is visiting Cuba."