tv CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow CNN March 20, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
the last time a sitting u.s. president stepped foot in cuba 1928 when calvin coolidge sailed there on a battleship from florida. they landed in havana a tonight. remember 15 a months ago, the president announced decades long freeze was ending. the president's agenda is part business. part diplomacy and part outreach. he will meet with dissidents, people who oppose the castro regime and this visit sets the tone for the two countries new future together. chris cuomo is live in a rainy
but what a night in havana. when you are talking to the people there, what are they saying about what this means for them? there's anxiety and a mix and that's not unusual. that is what this is. cuba has a lot of history. a lot of star dust for periods of the revolution. at the end of the day it is an oppress arive regime. at the end of the day cuba remains a third world country. people here, not just they don't have freedom of travel to the united states, they don't have running water on a regular basis, no power grid here. the internet is more of a myth than a reality. when you have these wi-fi hot spots they set up, people rush to them like they were looking for oxygen. even when they get the internet there's a fear can they read and say what they want? the streets, yes, there's a ton of rain going on right now.
but there's another reason the streets maybe empty. there's no motivation for the revolution the revolutionary government to reward cuba. people are encouraged to come out as they were when pope francis was here. we feel the difference. you see the difference in the lack of propaganda posters here. it is all very real. let's get perspective from someone who covered this for a long time on different levels. jim acosta and also ed is on the rainy streets of old havana. it is a beautiful moment to witness history, always when it is a supposed step this the right direction. but these guys have cuban roots and it makes it more significant. >> you are on the streets all alone. not just your popularity but something else. set the mood for us. >> we're not that alone, chris.
moments ago, the presidential motorcade came by here. you see this family right up here that we have been talking to them throughout the day. they let us on the roof a while ago and we were told by security agents to get off the roof and come down here. a short while ago, the president's motorcade drove by 20 feet here and got a close up glimpse of what exactly cubans live like, what they have to deal with and this is the -- these are the -- a lot of people love to come and see the old architecture of the city. this is the reality. many people who live in staggering, depressing conditions. the president seen up close on this motorcade. all of these people here, small group, not many people standing on the streets. incredibly excited as the motorcade came by. the gentleman that you just saw told me it was emotional to see and experience what that scene was like. obviously the limo is something
that many people have been waiting to see. these people cheering loudly as the presidential motorcade came by. the moment didn't last long but you know for these people it is a moment they will remember for quite sometime. now the presidential motorcade and the first family beginning the tour of old havana. an incredible moment to see this motorcade making its way down this famous boulevard here in havana. >> as you know too well from your reporting an family experience this was a moment that was never supposed to happen. so much a part of the formation of the revolution was framing the united states as a great oppressor. no president has been here since the revolution started and here's president obama now. no question it is history. the question is what does it mean? let's bring in jim acosta. waiting on president obama. he addressed the embassy staff is moving to the next location. not the best weather for it but to go over that.
it's more of what it symbolizes than reality. what are we expecting? >> we know president obama and first family are in the palace and armed with umbrellas as they take in old havana. this is to show the first family traveling in cuba and to say to the rest of the united states it's okay to come. part of that is because the white house is bringing with them ceos from places like marriott, starwood hotels. >> they signed a big deal here. >> they want to make it irreversible for the next president. when the next president comes in they have all of these big corporations invested here and they can't put the toothpaste back in the tube essentially. >> citric i can. they don't own the ground or building. they own the management rights and the money will go to the government. that's the big x factor, right. does it get to the people on the streets who need so much? >> live pictures. this is the walk about. as jim acosta was pointing out,
this is symbolic and showing presence. all day long we saw people wearing obama pins. these streets aren't that full and that is relevant, as well. >> i think it's raining on his parade a little bit arriving in cuba. you are going to see cubans embracing -- i think the president over the coming days, everybody we have talked to since we have been on the ground in cuba is positive about the trip. they are happy to see president obama here. they see him as a different kind of president. not the imperialist united states that they have been told to hate all of these years. pretty soon here, chris, the president will go to the cathedral in havana and tip his hat to pope francis who helped negotiate the opening of relations. people forget the deputy national security adviser was traveling in secret to the vatican, to canada to broker this thing. that's how i sensitive it is. >> interesting detail on that. as we look at a live picture in
shah ha vanna cuba. this is history. this is an absolute. no u.s. president has been on cuban soil since the revolution began. that period has ended. what you were talking about, jim acosta, ben rhodes, the president's adviser trying to make this happen with the vatican. who was he meeting with on the cuban side, raul castro's son who runs the equivalent of the cia here and has theories of how bad the united states government is. it is part of the tension working here. one of the facts here as well. the vatican played a role. hand delivered letters to the pontiff. and it gave cover to both gentlemen and opportunity to both gentlemen. the question is what was in those letters. that we don't know. >> i think what the white house looked for when they were dealing with pope francis was political cover. it is easy to push through a new policy on the american people
when you have the goost good housekeeping seefl approval. pope francis was talking about climate change and immigration and he feels strongly about the united states and cuba getting over this disagreement they have had the last 50 years and start a new chapter. will it be easy, no. will it happen overnight, definitely not. but to see the president of the united states and first lady and the daughters, malia and sasha under a statue of jose, walking the streets, it is unbelievable. i never thought i would see this day happen. i certainly didn't think it would happen so quickly. this is happening so quickly, i think it is understandable why my twitter is blowing up. >> no real assurance of change of regime of oppression. here's as well. those silenced many examples as
we saw with dissidents today, protesters today arrested right before the president arrived. this is the first step. what are we going to see? a meeting. the heads of state meet, big baseball game, the rolling stones. all of these are cultural impacts. we'll see what is to come. you are looking at history and seeing the president's daughters there. what a day for them. the first lady and the man himself, president obama going through the old plaza here. live pictures from havana, cuba. the first steps toward a historic journey. >> traveling with the president all the time, it is rare when you see the whole family traveling together on an official trip. this shows how important this is inside of the obama family, inside of the obama -- can you imagine the president and first lady and daughters sitting around the dinner table saying where are we going next? they are here for two nights. that's longer than the stays in asia or europe. that's how excited the family is
about coming to cuba. >> those words apply to president obama's interest in his legacy. he said he didn't want the last year to be a nonevent. he took it in his hands. executive orders are doing this, not legislation. that's an unknown in terms of history of relations with cuba and the united states. a quick break. when we come back, it may be raining but this is hopefully a ray of sunshine metaphorically for the people of cuba. we will take you through why in a moment. jack be nimble, jack be quick, jack knocked over a candlestick onto the shag carpeting... ...and his pants ignited into flames, causing him to stop, drop and roll. luckily jack recently had geico help him with renters insurance. because all his belongings went up in flames. jack got full replacement and now has new pants he ordered from banana republic. visit geico.com and see how affordable renters insurance can be. you're an at&t small business expert? sure am. my staff could use your help staying in touch with customers.
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that in nearly nine years. he's in cuba right now with the first family. this is an historic visit. our bill weir traveled to cuba. spent 15 days shooting what is a beautiful debut of the wonder list. watch. >> looks like boutique you may see in soho or melrose district of los angeles. and then right across the street, people are raising chickens on their balcony. >> how's life in havana these days? >> really hard. >> it's hard. >> some people think change in the future. >> you don't think so?
i hope so. maybe for business but for the people, i don't know. new ideas. we need that. maybe in a few years. >> really? >> yeah. >> i came here expecting to find that sentiment everywhere, but to my surprise so many seemed proud of the cuban system. >> bill weir is with me now. tell me more about that. >> here's a joke someone told me. you know what the three greatest successes of the revolution are? >> what? >> science, arts and sports and you know what the three greatest failures are, breakfast, lunch and dinner. telling a joke like that may have got me locked up a generation ago but it speaks of a dichotomy of people who have nothing by our standards. they are rich by a lot of
standards of latin american. you are guaranteed shelter as a cuban citizen. people's houses are falling down and so dangerous. there are 140,000 people waiting to get in to shelters. they are building shelters instead of fixing the houses where people are living in. people are surviving day by day. >> we know the president landed with a lot of big name ceos, air bnb ceo coming in here. are they excited about the money coming in. the big american businesses or wary of it. >> more wary of it because when you think some people say they will go the way of china. like a one-party capitalism. but they don't have a billion people to work in factoriefacto. a lot of them don't want to be bartenders or hotel maids. even if marriott got the green light today or mcdonald's, the
cuban government will demand 51% ownership in that business. >> try to convince shareholders that is a good bet. >> where they can't keep the water on. the change is going to happen. probably take longer than we are used to. when you think of a place opening up, boom, it will turn in to south beach. >> not south beach yet. >> it will be years in the making as they try to figure out a balance between capitalism and communism. >> little tease for tonight. biggest surprise tonight? >> just the condition of the place. the warmth of the people. so much love for their cold war enemy, which ends today. vc day, victory in cuba. >> march 20th, 2016. what a day. bill weir, thank you so much. all of you will not want to miss "the wonder list." tonight 10:00 p.m. eastern here on cnn. but first, if you are a business traveller headed to denver, you
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out there speaking with his daughters about what is quite a moment in history. there you see him inside of the ka thee daal of havana with cardinal ortega. they are looking at something u.s. president has not looked at in 88 years. looks like a portrait of president lincoln right there. tomorrow the president is set to meet with cuba's president raul castro who will be the first u.s. sitting president to do that, to be on the cuban soil in 88 years. much more from havana in just a moment. now back to politics at home. this political season has been rough and tumble to say the least. you can relive another brutal campaign tonight here on cnn, bush versus dukakis. it is a brand new episode of "race for the white house." here's a look. >> first question comes in -- >> governor, if kitty dukakis were raped and murdered, would
you favor an irrevocable death penalty. >> so easy for caucus to react with genuine emotion, anger and right, indignation. that somebody would murder his wife. >> i know what it's like. that is where the answer had to go. >> i don't, bernard. i would oppose the death penalty during all of my life. i don't see any evidence that it is a deterrent. i think there are better effective ways to deal with crime. we have done so in my own state. >> and i thought, dead. >> let's talk more about it. presidential historian is with me. that is a moment, again, a moment that contained a presidential campaign, part of
what did that for dukakis. you say it is about looking and appearing presidential. what was his other key mistake if. >> when he rode around in a tank. the thing is -- what i didn't know is that some young staffers in the campaign, the dukakis campaign said don't this. you are not going to look good. one of the tanks, saw the helmet, put the helmet on and realized i look awful in this helmet because i have an awful nose. governor dukakis will look just as bad. >> there's the shot no one can forget. let's contrast then and now. that was a brutal campaign. now is a brutal campaign. race came in to play then. race is coming in to play now. what's changed? >> well, let me say some of it is the same. the architect of bush's campaign is someone named lee atwater who understood that politics is theater and willing to play to the worst elements of the
electorate, including on race. some of the origins of what we are seeing today can be found in the '88 campaign. but the filters are gone. with twitter and on-line, and little editorial control, the kind of stuff we saw in 1988 can be done without any kind of control. >> the famous willie thornton ad. roll some of that. bush won in all of this using racial fear to win the race and doing it successfully. >> bush was a very good president but this was an ugly campaign. the will horton ad was to play on people's fears and a rumor that dukakis had treatment for
depression an reagan commented. >> on his mental stability. he said, i don't like to attack invalid lids. it was dirty side to the campaign and it played on our worst -- some of the worst feelings of this country. as i said, the question has always been what did he know about the campaign that was done in his behalf. >> when you look at the moment in the campaign where dan rather has an interview with george bush. there is some sort of -- whether it is a misunderstanding or what about what he is going in to the interview to talk about. he unleashes on rather. >> part of it is bush always felt he wasn't a great presidential candidate. he wasn't treated well. they had discussed the wimp factor in talking about him.
he was not a tough, ronald reagan. he was ready to go after rather, the press and to demonstrators, with his no new taxes pledge, he could be as resolute as the person he was working for. >> the camp thought he did a phenomenal job and the highlight of his campaign. >> in the end it worked. they were able to go forward. dukakis who was not the initial weakness candidate was far ahead when it started. by the end a decimated campaigner. politics were personal then. that's how they -- that's how the bush campaign eviscerated. they made him look unpresidential. and it succeeded. >> dukakis is in the episode tonight. it is a must watch. thank you. >> for all of you, don't miss the new episode of "the race for
the white house" nunn p.m. eastern here on cnn. take a look at this. you are looking at live pictures of the man who defeated george bush in 1992, bill clinton campaigning for his wife hillary clinton in tucson, arizona a. let's listen. >> iowa has the lowest electric rates in the united states of america because they rely on home grown energy and all the jobs it creates and all the incomes from those farmers it makes. hillary wants to bring manufacturing back to this country. i want to say a little bit about this. i don't know if you read the story about carrier moving jobs out of indiana, going to mexico. they should not be able to get a tax deduction because of that relocation. they should have to give back all of the state and local tax credits they got for the next
the president of the united states is in cuba. the last time those words were true nearly 90 years ago. today, truly historic in a new relationship between cuba an the united states. president obama and the first family stepping on to cuban soil a few hours ago. they are in the country until late on tuesday and between now and then president obama he will meet with people opposing the castro regime. this is not a run of the mill state visit it's the first day
of the new renewed partnership that has laid the ground work that he laid the ground work for more than a year ago. my friend chris cuomo live in havana where the rain is coming down. people on the ground split about what this means for them. chris? >> this was something never supposed to happen poppy since the revolution happened. part of the formation was the united states is imperialistic pressure. here we are. a move by an american president is seen as a step toward healing and fixing the situation that sorely needs it under a repressive regime where people are without basic necessities and more importantly basic freedoms. we are looking at a live picture. i will keep saying the word historic and i don't care because it is on so many levels. inside at one time christopher
columbus' bones were said to be kept there before they were moved. to the left of your picture, that part of the plaza is where hemingway, the bar where hemingway used to drink mojitos here and write about the fanciful notions he had and now president obama is there with his family. many levels of history but the relevance is what it will it mean going forward? this is a repressive regime. what will change? is this about making money for american companies or making new freedoms for cuban people. this isn't like when we came here for the pope. the word had been out for weeks he was coming. people forget how hard it is to get information here. the word isn't spread the same way about president obama coming. people weren't brought in. we know there have been efforts to slow people from coming in to the city and yet you found
people for whom this moment means so much. >> there's no question, chris. i think what you see behind me speaks volumes. normally this is a place where despite the rain people would rather and if it wasn't raining thousands of people would be gathered. what we see this afternoon and a short while ago, the presidential motorcade drove down here and hardly anyone was on the streets. we were with a small group of people cheer cheer ing loudly as a the motorcade came by. you are reminded of the place where you are at along every block security agents keeping an eye on everything. in fact, we were under a port coe here. as the motorcade was coming by, the crowds started to get more excited and lean toward the street to get a better glimpse of the motorcade. security guards came by and started to push everybody back.
a small group of people. one had a sign and he said one of the security guards took it away from him. >> you can see which name he wrote second about wanting to be free and safe. i will check back with you in a bit. we are waiting for the next step in the historic moment the first time an american president has been on cuban soil since the revolution began. stay with cnn.
we have been watching history take place here with president obama. the first u.s. president on cuban soil since the revolution began. you are looking at a very special place here and certainly for catholics around the world. that is the havana cathedral. at one time, christopher columbus' bones were kept in there. the left of the screen is the corner of the bar where ernest hemingway sat and drank mojitos and wrote. that's another piece of history and now to have the american president on cuban soil. unknown.ications are deep and
i'm joined by i'm. >> here he is, ortega a crucial role. the official from the catholic church who went to the white house with a letter from pope francis, hand delivered it to president obama. they wanted to pass it off in havana because it is easier to do that and he said it is delivered to president obama. and he delivered another letter to castro pushing both of these men to make peace. that's what happened. when the pope tells you to do something, you do it. >> the first step is obviously for president obama to address the embassy staff. we now have footage of that. let's listen to what president obama had to say. >> it has been 60 years since a u.s. president stepped foot in cuba. it is wonderful to be here.
in 1928, president coolidge came on a bat ship. it took him three days to get here. it only took me three hours. for the first time ever air force one has landed in cuba and this is our first stop. this is a historic visit. and it's an historic opportunity to engage with the cuban president and people. michelle and i want to start with all of you because nothing symbolizes better. the american flag flies over a reopened u.s. embassy. having a u.s. embassy here means we are able to more effectively advance our interest and values and understand the cuban people and their concerns. i want to thank the outstanding
leadership team that's here, especially our outstanding ambassador and his wonderful wife jennifer. give them a big round of applause. >> that was the first stop. one step of many here, jim acosta. this is one of the easiest parts of the trip for president obama. there's a lot of plus and minus coming at him about doing this. >> the diplomatic history there. it is worth mentioning as president obama was speaking to the diplomatic staff. you know opening an embassy was no easy task. i will tell you from talking to white house officials, the defacto ambassador here was essentially getting this role because they knew there was no way they could get a new ambassador through congress. so the ambassador here is there because they felt he had the chops to pull this off. the other thing we should
mention, the embassy used to have a message board mounted on the intersection that would play anti-castro messages. have the cubans responded, they flew up black flags that obscured the message. this is what was going on all of these years with the establishing of the u.s. embassy all of that comes down. none of those games anymore and we will see if they can keep it going. that's the tone so far. you heard from the president. >> you have to put a big question mark at the end because who knows what change will mean, will it change what happened with the politics of the united states? none of it was permanent. it is done by president obama and not the legislature. congress would have to remove the embargo. when we come back, this is just beginning. people are real izizing in cuba that president obama is here. what will it mean in the days ahead. stay with us. g your company. grabbing your data.
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in havana, cuba. the first time an american president has set foot on the soil since the american revolution. remember the impact and importance. a u.s. president symbolized the evil imperialist force that was great oppressor. the motivation to fight against the leadership in quotes that was supposedly coming from the united states and now president obama arrives on a very different day. that's footage we have been waiting for. that's right. just about the entire cuban american delegation on capitol
hill, marco rubio, ted cruz, the house and democrats like bob menendez are saying this is a terrible mistake. this is a test for the obama doctrine. president obama has said throughout this administration, you know what, we tried being adventurous, interventionist in other parts of the world and we will try engagement. the question becomes, what does engagement get you in the end? does it get you real changes from the cuban people and the government? if the president does not get those things, maybe it will happy the end of his administration. if we don't get those people will say that is a nice idea but didn't work out. >> this is not permanent. this is done you talk to people up on capitol hill and people inside the white house, they're saying never say never. >> it's the cuban people saying this wasn't supposed to happen, either.
>> maybe not during the remainder of president obama's time in office, but if hillary clinton becomes president or even if donald trump, remember donald trump has said he doesn't mind what's happening in cuba right now. he said he might make a better deal is what he says. but he's not against this new engagement with the cubans. and so the logical next step, if you talk to people like jeff blake, republican senator who is traveling with the president, one of the republicans on this trip. he said you know what, the next step slisting the embargo, it's been in there all these years. why have this piecemeal approach which is basically what the white house is doing now. you can travel to cuba under 12 specified cultural reasons. we know there are americans going to the beach and calling it a cultural trip. the question is do they at some point put ink to paper and take the embargo down? that's essentially the last step in this new chapter between the united states and cuba. the question becomes, do the cubans make that happen?
if thee against every kind of opening when it comes to human rights, members on capitol hill say we're not going to lift this embargo. >> you know what would be the last step would perhaps a first step. >> poppy harlow back to you in new york. as much as the fanfare is of this being a big moment, this being a change -- the need here cannot being exaggerated, this just isn't about money and jobs, this is about basic freedoms, poppy, basic freedoms. >> chris, were you there when the pope visited last year. walk me through quickly if you can, how much the pope played into this happening today. >> that also can't be exaggerated. there's no question that the pope wrote letters to raul castro and president obama and made sure that both were hand-delivered by the cardinal here who president obama is visiting with right now. what was in those letters? we don't know. but clearly it provided political cover for them and let us in large part to what we're seeing right now.
what happens next, poppy? we'll have to wait and see. >> chris cuomo, thank you so much. live in havana, we take a quick break and take you back to cuba after this. stay with us. nano-business.e a windows 10 really helps us get the word out about how awesome bugs are. kids learn to be brave and curious and all kids speak the language of bug. "hey cortana, find my katydid video" oh! this is so good. (laughs) if you're trying to teach a kid about a proboscis just sketch it on the screen. i don't have a touch screen on my mac, i'm jealous of that. (laughs) you put a big bug in a kids hands and change their world view. (laughs) testing, testing... 1, 2, 3, 4... ♪ ♪look out honey... ♪because i'm using technology...♪ ♪ ♪ain't got time to make no apologies...♪ ♪
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you see them getting off of air force one right there. relations between the neighboring nations are entering a new era after decades of estrangement. it is the first time a sitting u.s. president has visited the communist island in 88 years. president obama will meet with cuba's president, raul castro tomorrow. while this is a big step for both the united states and cuba, cuba still has a long way to go. consider these numbers. the average monthly salary for cubans right now, $20. just $20 a month. according to brookings and just 5% of cubans have unfiltered access to the internet. no question, a new page has been turned tonight. what's ahead for the cuban people is still to be seen. we will have much more coverage of the president's visit this week on cnn. but first, some great premieres for you tonight. do not miss a brand new episode of "race for the white house" bush versus dukakis at 9:00 p.m.
eastern and "the wonder list" with bill weir. thank you so much for joining me tonight, have a great week. >> for eight years you've been a heart beat away from the oval office. a loyal vice president. >> we shall win. >> biding your time, waiting your turn. you know the path to power, and you think you know the rules. ♪