Obama to Visit Cuba

He will be the first sitting president to visit the island in 88 years.

President Obama is planning on visiting Cuba next month, making him the first president to visit the island in 88 years.

The White House will announce the visit on Thursday as part of a larger trip through Latin America. News of his plans immediately garnered criticism from those opposed to normalizing relations with the country.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose father fled to the U.S. from Cuba in the 1950s, said Obama shouldn't visit while the Castro family remains in power. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, another child of Cuban immigrants, lambasted the president for visiting what he called an "anti-American communist dictatorship."

"Today, a year and two months after the opening of Cuba, the Cuban government remains as oppressive as ever," Rubio said on CNN. Told of Obama's intention to visit, he added, "Probably not going to invite me."

Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced in late 2014 that they would begin normalizing ties after a half-century of Cold War opposition. The Obama administration is eager to make rapid progress on building trade and diplomatic ties with Cuba before Obama leaves office.

The planned trip follows a deal signed on Tuesday that restores commercial air traffic to Cuba for the first time in fifty years. The Department of Transportation opened bidding to U.S. airlines on as many as 110 flights a day to the island.