Assessing Obama's Repair Job in Latin America

Starting with an easing of the Cuban embargo, the president tried to win over skeptical leaders.

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U.S. officials had hoped to defuse the Cuba issue ahead of the summit, where Havana, as a nondemocratic regime, has no seat. But Cuban President Raul Castro's surprise reply to Obama last week declaring that the two sides could—if they met as sovereign equals—discuss anything, including political change on the island, thrust the Cuba issue back to the forefront. Obama said he wanted to see political steps from Havana in order to move forward, but he also acknowledged that "the policy we've had in place for 50 years hasn't worked the way we want it to. The Cuban people are not free."