Days after approving the first American factory in Cuba in nearly half a century, President Barack Obama is gearing up to pay an official visit to the country in what will make for yet another historic moment in its newly mended relationship with the United States. Obama’s visit, which ABC News reports is expected to take place in mid March, will reportedly be one stop on a broader Latin America trip.

Obama confirmed the visit early Thursday morning in a series of tweets. “14 months ago, I announced that we would begin normalizing relations with Cuba,” @POTUS tweeted. “We’ve already made significant progress. Our flag flies over our Embassy in Havana once again. More Americans are traveling to Cuba than at any time in the last 50 years.” Ben Rhodes, who boasts the lengthy but super cool title of Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, published a piece on Medium to break down the “why” of Obama’s historic Cuban visit.

“Cuba’s nascent private sector — from restaurant owners to shopkeepers — has benefited from increased travel from the American people. Increased remittances to Cuba from the United States has helped Cuban families. Openings for American companies also hold the potential of improving the lives of ordinary Cubans — for instance, American companies will be enabling travelers to stay in Cuban homes and setting up a factory that will provide equipment for farmers. The Cuban government has taken some steps to fulfill its commitment to expand access to the Internet, expanding wireless hotspots and announcing an initial broadband connection,” he wrote.

This will make Obama the first president to visit Cuba in more than eight decades, ABC News notes, an obvious milestone that’s not entirely supported by some GOP leaders. “The Cuban government remains as oppressive as ever,”Marco Rubio told CNN earlier this week. Obama, however, sees the visit as an opportunity to continue working in tandem with Cuban leaders to improve both American relations and the country’s position in international discourse. “We still have differences with the Cuban government that I will raise directly,” Obama said on Thursday. “America will always stand for human rights around the world.”

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  • The March visit will be historic in many ways. The evil dictatorship of the reactionary Batista was overthrown by the beginning of the 1960’s. Fidel Castro was praised by Malcolm X while the CIA tried to kill Castro multiple times. The Cuban Revolution documented how oppressed peoples can resist colonialism and oppression through many means. Cuba has supported the Angolan fight for independence and we thank Cuba for that. Cuba has a very low rate of childhood mortality rate and it has a high level of literacy including great health care services (some of the greatest on Earth) despite the embargo. The nation has over 30,000 doctors deployed in 100 nations and has been first to respond to crises such as Hurricane Katrina and Pakistan’s 2005 earthquake with an extension of aid. Today, we see an easing of tensions.

    I do believe in the ending of the embargo and more cordial relations. Yet, Cuba has the right to be independent. I don’t believe that Western corporations should economically dominate every facet of the Cuban economy or resources. I think that any discussion in Cuba should allow Assata Shakur to live in Cuba. Sister Assata Shakur deserves to live her life. We all love and appreciate Assata Shakur like a relative. Also, I do believe that Guantanamo Bay should be closed. Humanitarian and civil rights groups have rightfully called for its closing. We want human liberty to be advanced in the world not torture or the suspension of international human rights. Also, America can’t lecture Cuba on human rights when America hasn’t been so clean on human rights either (from the mass incarceration state, torture, the Patriot Act, etc.). The collective welfare of humanity must always be advanced.