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tv   News  Al Jazeera  March 21, 2016 10:30am-11:01am EDT

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to a group of four countries belgium, france, morocco, and spain. which combines the four prosecutions. this bilateral is based on a certain number of factors which is vital. >> you've been watching live coverage on brussels and the terror attacks. we'll have more on that later in the hour, i'm stephanie sy. history is being made in havana. president obama is 30 minutes away from meeting with raul castro in cuba. here when he landed. >> it's been nearly 90 years since the u.s. president stepped foot in cuba. it is wonderful to be here. >> this is day two of the president's three-day visit. the culmination of a diplomatic thaw. the president and his cuban current part raul castro. we join melissa chan in havana.
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>> the biggest event is going to be president obama's bilateral meeting. it is important to mention that he's not going to be meeting with fidel castro. the two are going to assess the progress of normalization, their new bilateral relationship and they have re-established diplomatic ties. now for the goal of president obama very much on this trip it is symbolism to a certain extent misbecause he's thinking about his legacy, but he's considering the possibility that the next president might not move the process forward enough. his trip exceptionally makes it very difficult, irversible, in terms of the changes we have seen in the u.s.-cuba relationship over the past 14-15 months. now on tuesday morning president obama is going to be meeting with dissidents, human rights activists in this country. according to the activists they have said that the cuban government has actually detained more people. there has been an increase in detention over the past few months. that really places everything in
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context. the argument for u.s. engagement with cuba is economicki economickieconomic liberalization. the government is still very much in control and are not going to liberalize any time soon on the political front. for more cubans the dissidents are the minorities, and most cubans by and large support normization. they find president obama very popular and the vast majority of cubans are very much against the american embargo. >> al jazeera's melissa chan in havana, and we're getting a live feed from cuban tv as the president lays a wreath at the memorial. here he'll be meeting with raul castro. we're watching some of the pomp and circumstance being played as the "star spangled banner" is being played right now.
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six in ten support restoring diplomatic relations between the united states and cuba. the poll found that 52% of americans approve of president obama's handling of relations between the two countries. 55% favor ending the trade embargo against cuba. 51% say they have a favorable impression of cuba but only 43% of americans is interested in visiting cuba. joined from washington, robert, good to have you with us. thank you for your time. what is the value for this trip for president obama and president raul castro? >> thank you again for having me. well, certainly this is just a way to say, you know, we're welcoming new relations. this is a time where the cold war has long ended and it's been long overdo to establish new
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relationships. president obama has scored important diplomatic victories in the world. let's look at the nuclear deal that the united states and other powers signed with iran. that's very important. we have syria, that's not resolved unfortunately, but for real castro this is a possibility that show that he's committed to implementing changes come his removal of pow in 2018. >> i want to ask you this. this is the fourth time that castro and obama will be meeting. how much leverage does obama have when it comes to issues like human rights? >> that's a really interesting question and one of the sticky points during this visit. i think president obama was trying to make--establish an
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approach with president raul castro the first time when nelson mandela funeral, and many saw that as a good omen for change. now we've seen the arrest of dissidents who have been incarcerated just for expressing their opinions against the castro regime. this is important that the president stay on message, that he is there to talk to the cuban population, toes dissidents, and so, you know, i wouldn't say a revolution you but really a call to conscience and to say that old politician on the island needs to be changed. that's why president obama in havana is so important. >> we're looking at pictures that we're seeing, the cuban military band playing th the
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"star spangled banner." this is part of what we'll see the president do today before he meets with raul castro. how much is the president's overture towards cuba really as a counterweight to countries such as venezuela and even to china. >> that is correct. one argument that a lot of people make that cuba is such a small market, there is little benefit to the united states. there is only 11 million people. it's a country that has really stuck in time. you if you go to havana, you see 1950 chevy models running on the streets of havana, and the infrastructure is crippling. but it's such a symbolic act when you have cuba being part of affairs but banned from attending the summit of americas in cart hane in a, and i
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previous summits of the america's except last year in panama. and other countries that have an unsavory with the united states, including bolivia, this could have a domino affect so that other countries such as bolivia, venezuela, might join the what i call the happy bandwagon where everybody could get along, provided there are solutions to their internal problems so that the entire hemisphere will face common problems together. >> robert valencia, stand by, we'll come back to you, but i want to bring to you david who has reported extensively from cuba. he comes with us now.
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>> we're seeing a media scrum around president obama. it looks like he might be saying a few words. he's supposed to walk from this location to the presidential palace. how far is that, and talk about what we've just seen. >> we're seeing president obama walking through the plaza. this is an wh area where three popes have spoken. and there was the peace without borders concert. it's an area of historic significance, and this is where fidel castro would give his hours-long speeches. you can see icons of the revolution. to see a sitting president of the united states walking through the plaza. this is the statue of a george washington figure of the revolution.
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this area is iconic cuba and saying that the united states and cuba are open for business. this is a historic moment. >> is there irony in that symbolism? >> i'm sure that president obama's opponent senator cruz, marco rubio and donald trump will look at this as a moment that president obama is apologizing for 50 years. and i'm sure that the castro government is viewing this. what we've seen of dissidents being rounded up just like dissidents being rounded up prior to the pope's visit. who knows if they would cheer obama. maybe they would cheer usa. those are things that the castro government is not willing to take. >> we talked about the symbolism
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between castro and obama, what will obama get out of it? will he get short-term concessions on human rights or other issues such as americans being able to do business in cuba. >> if there is a quid pro quo here, it doesn't look like it. what president obama is trying to do, he's trying to establish his legacy and also make it difficult to roll back some of the regulatory changes. >> what he's doing is laying the groundwork for a post castro era, is that what this is really about? >> i think on the surface that's exactly what is happening but on a subterranean level of this, in terms of trade--trade in cuba dropped between 2015 and 2014. it was down 8% in january compared to last year. despite the normalization of trade, trade has diminished over the past few years. however, we're seeing companies partner with hotels. this was a hotel built in 1875. winston churchill went there.
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>> an american hotel chain, but also that american hotel chain might be purchased by chinese insurance markets. what we're looking at is chinese influence that is doubling down and exponentially rising, as projected to, and manne american influence has been waning in this area. this is not only a time to poach back those old ties, but to show the united states as a true power broker and trade in the region that has been abandoned when it comes to cuba. cuba is a market of 11 million people. a lot of agriculture land that has been untapped. john deeres want to get in there, microsoft and google has been talking about opening up hot spots in the island. >> it's happening fast or perhaps not fast enough. we'll talk about later in the area. david, thank you. stay with us. much more of our coverage of president obama in cuba coming up. right now the president is at
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the jose martin memorial. he said he would walking through the plaza to meet with cuban president raul castro. much more about havana and the significance of this trip live. also ahead, clearing the air with key constituents. donald trump heads to washington trying to win over a key voting block.
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>> in the presidential races the attention has shifted west ahead of tomorrow's contests. for republicans, 107 delegates are up for grads. the winner take all in arizona and primary in utah and caucuses in american samoa. for the democrats a total of 149 delegates are at stake. they have primaries in arizona, utah and caucuses in idaho. tensions are boiling over at another donald trump rally. >> this is disgusting, guys. put your klu klux klan hat on. he thinks he's cute. he's a disgusting guy. >> this is from arizona on saturday. a woman wearing a klan hood was escorted man. a man who was punching and kicking has been charged with misdemeanor assault and donald trump said he did not condone the violence and called themmage
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staters. reaching for the collar of a protester. a spokes woman said that she was having a conversation when a member of the security detail pulled the man were behind. trump called his campaign manager spirited. he was just trying to remove an offensive sign all presidential candidates except for bernie sanders are in washington to adress apax, a lobbying group considered the strongest. >> candidates for president who think that the united states can outsource middle east security to dictators or america no longer has vital national interests at stake in this region are dangerously wrong. >> clinton, like other candidates, hope apac can help her end this presidential race. they'll need to take a tough
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line on iran to get that support. >> this year a record 18,000 people have made the pilgrimage to washington. apaq but the perceived arab threat has been outdated with the real menace perceived as iran. >> the saudis, jordanians and in the past, you're right, weapons to these countries. they now have a common interest. >> last year aipac confronted the obama administrationly lobbying congress to reject the deal that froze iran's nuclear program but that campaign failed, and it undermined aipac's traditional policy against taking sides between
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democrats and republicans in the u.s. political arena. still the group promises to keep up the pressure on iran. these delegates heard one opponent of the deal warning that remaining sanctions are losing their power to curb iran's regional ambitions. >> today even when things are prohibited people will erode the sanctions of the margin. >> that disturbs activists. >> it's very important especially where we stand in this conference to really get some right answers and how afraid we really should be. and how deep the problem is. >> most americans agree with two in every three opposed to the nuclear deal according to a recent gallup poll. >> aipac may not reflect the arrange ever opinions of american justs but one measure of their influence four presidential candidates, democrat and republican, will be here to court their votes. tom ackerman, al jazeera,
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washington. >> senate majority leader mitch mcconnell is doubling down on his opposition in confirming president obama's supreme court pick. he shot down the opinion that merrick garland get a hearing during the lame duck session and explain why he won't get enough support to win a vote. >> i can't imagine that a republican majority in the united states senate would want to confirm in a lame duck session a nominee opposed to the national rifle association, the national ocean that represents small business that has never taken a position on the supreme court nomination before, they're opposed to this guy. even if it were soon to be a majority would want to confirm the judge that would move the court to the left. that wouldn't happen. >> they fear in the democratic president is elected in november a nor liberal justice could be
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nominated. taking a look now again live at havana. this is president obama signing the guest book at the jose. >> well, i can tell you among the cuban people here havana there is excitement. a lot of people are staying away. a heavy security presence here. the people i've talked to are looking forward to what the future holds. they say enough of the animosity and enough of more than 50 years of trade and diplomatic embargo. on the u.s. side there is concern about the visit. there is a lot of choreography. we called last night as soon as the president got off the plane with spring break as well as
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mrs. obama again after some 54 years of estrangement it was pouring rain, however, and it really sort of in a quite literal sense rained on their parade, but that was nothing in comparison to the protest earlier that day. it happens every sunday, a group of dissidents of a group known as ladies in white, they protest, and they were protesting as they do most every sunday, but they were detained and arrested. it was quite a scene. by cuban security officials as well counter protesters. i spoke to white house officia officials. they were concerned about the optics of that. they were very concerned about criticism that they have not
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been paying attention t, and there are some who think that president obama is making a mistake. i should add that some believe that dissident groups are wholly bought and paid for by elements outside of the united states, and including the united states government. you get a feeling there is a great deal of concern on the part of the white house. they don't the way that happened. however the show goes on. there is a lot of purpose and ceremony. the president laying a wreath at the statue of jose marti, famous heroic 19th century nationalist calling for independence from spain. there will be an opening ceremony and an arrival ceremony. the site where fidel castro gave countless speeches, and ironies
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abound here. history abounds, but something of another minor controversy and major in the eyes of others, they will have a press conference for these two presidents, and yet trillion be no questions taken. it's well-known that the white house press the cuban government to allow a full fledge press conference where there could be a give and take. as far as we understand the status of that request is know. this is going to be statements lasting just a few minutes between the two presidents. after that there is a state different. the president will attend an entrepreneurial summit. he has a number of ceos in tow here. air bb, star wood, marriott, those two countries emerging, xerox, pay pal, on down the line. there are several politicians here, we saw several in the hotel last night. even a few republicans along for the ride but mostly democrats.
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the summit that the president is holding, coming up in the afternoon with american ceos and cuban businesses. tomorrow the president has a speech to the cuban people before he attends a baseball game. a much ballyhooed game between the rays and cuban team. >> you talk about the optics, especially of those protest rallies and arrests it's been less than 24 hours since air force one landed in havana. based on what has happened so far, what are the white house's expectations of this visit? is this going to be he obama's nixon going to china moment? >> well, the white house has said many times that what they're trying to do is give a feeling of permanence of what the president has done. which could be reversed when his
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successor is sworn in. the president said he's confident that will be a democrat, but if it isn't the republican would have every opportunity to reverse what the president has done in normalizing relations. it was a dramatic announcement on september 17, 2014, when simultaneously the cuban government and the united states government in a surprise announcement announced intentions of normalized relations. the cuban embassy was opened. what the house and the president are trying to do through these pictures we'll see over the course of yesterday, today and tomorrow, and the fact that they're doing this early whyer in the year as opposed to later when frankly the presidency or this administration is less and less relevant. they're flying to put this sense of permanence in this new relationship, this new diplomatic opening. >> mike stay with us. our continuing coverage of the president to cuba continues. he is headed to the palace.
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there is a handshake, actually, with the president of cuba, raul castro, the former welcoming of the president of the united states in cuba.
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bury their members. >> they're tracking climate change. >> it's quite an historic moment. you can't overstate how big of a moment this is, las time being 1928 alvin coolidge sailing down. this would create an approachment of how cuba and the united states were meeting. there was discord there but president obama coming this ti time. >> very different circumstances. >> coming with his family. showing up, walking in with sasha and malia and the first lady, and real castr cast--raul castro, who will leave office
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in 2018. this is a major start. this is a moment there have been many moments. we've had three popes, many moments and this is not a moment that has not happened since the 190s. >> i imagine he'll do a review of troops. which is normal in a visit like these. we'll go out to mike viqueira who is standing by in havana as we see these pictures unfold. i'm curious how this is being covered in cuban media and what access cubans have in seeing these events unfold. >> well, again that is something that has been a concern of the white house. after all the point here is to expose the ordinary cuban person to the president. his message and what he has to say. one of the sticking points as they negotiated over the course of the first few months of last
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year between the cuban government and the american government in trying to open those embassies, the americans wanted their diplomats to have freer travel throughout cuba so they could have that exposure to promote not only american values, american ideals in terms of politics and civil liberties but also american economic interests as well. i had visited with a couple of different individuals over the course of the last few days of restaurant owner who has a chic restaurant--full disclosure, i was having dinner there, but he said that business has boomed over the last three months. but part of the problem, and ears the irony and props illustrates what is going on in cuba. there is vees stages of the old command style economy. they canned find things. they can't find produce. they can't find the things he