In an effort to end a decades-long frozen relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, President Barack Obama made history when he became the first president in nearly 90 years to visit the island siloed from the rest of the world since the Cold War conflict.
Obama — who touched down in a rainy Havana with First Lady Michelle Obama, her mother, Marian Robinson, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama on Sunday — took to Twitter to announce his arrival before the family was swept away for tours of the city’s mostly unchanged and historic district.
In a meeting with U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, the president remarked that his visit as a sitting U.S. president would be a normal sight for the country in the years to come.
“For the first time, the American flag flies over an embassy, and having the embassy here means we can more effectively advance our interests and values and understand the Cuban people and their concerns,” Obama said.
“We hope they think it’s natural that a U.S. president would visit Cuba and the two peoples are working together,” he added.
The trip, applauded by many and a welcome sight for Cubans who cheered “USA!” at Obama’s arrival, was condemned by members of the GOP, who have long criticized the president’s efforts to open the lines of communication between the island and the U.S.
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump pointed out Raul Castro’s absence at the airport for Obama’s arrival, suggesting that the Cuban president had no respect for Obama.
Sen. Ted Cruz, another of the party’s presidential hopefuls and the son of a Cuban immigrant, also commented on Obama’s trip, calling it a “sad day in American history.”
“It’s very chic, it’s very chichi for leftists to celebrate vicious communist dictators,” Cruz said. “I cannot wait as president to visit Cuba, but when I visit Cuba, it will be a free Cuba.”
President Obama's Historic Trip To Cuba In Photos
1. President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attend a state dinner in CubaSource:ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images 1 of 21
2. President Castro with first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack ObamaSource:ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images 2 of 21
3. President Obama And President Castro Talk At An Exhibition Baseball GameSource:Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images 3 of 21
4. President Obama and President Castro Do The WaveSource:Pete Souza/Instagram 4 of 21
5. President Castro and President Obama Meet Jackie Robinson's Widow At An Exhibition Baseball GameSource:Pete Souza/Instagram 5 of 21
6. Cubans Wave To President ObamaSource:Pete Souza/Instagram 6 of 21
7. The First Family Arrives In CubaSource:NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images 7 of 21
8. President Barack Obama Waves To The People Of Old HavanaSource:Pete Souza/Instagram 8 of 21
9. First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama Arrive In Cuba On Air Force OneSource:NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images 9 of 21
10. The First Family Deplanes In CubaSource:NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images 10 of 21
11. The Obama Daughters In CubaSource:Instagram 11 of 21
12. Obama Arrives In Old Havana In The RainSource:NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images 12 of 21
13. President Barack Obama On A Cold Rainy Day In Old HavanaSource:Pete Souza/Instagram 13 of 21
14. Cuba Prepares For President Barack Obama's ArrivalSource:NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images 14 of 21
15. The First Lady Michelle Obama With Daughters Malia And Sasha At La Catedral De La Virgen Maria De La Concepcion Inmaculada In Old HavanaSource:Pete Souza/Instagram 15 of 21
16. President Barack Obama And Daughter Malia share a laughSource:Pete Souza/Instagram 16 of 21
17. President Obama Meets With President Castro in CubaSource:Pete Souza/Instagram 17 of 21
18. President Barack Obama Greets The Press In CubaSource:NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images 18 of 21
19. President Barack Obama Greets The Press In CubaSource:NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images 19 of 21
20. Cubans Wave To ObamaSource:Instagram 20 of 21
21. Cuban President Barack Obama SupporterSource:NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images 21 of 21
SOURCE: NBC | VIDEO SOURCE: Inform | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty