President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro on March 22, 2016 in Havana, Cuba.
President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro on March 22, 2016 in Havana, Cuba. Joe Raedle—2016 Getty Images

Obama Defends Attending Baseball Game In Cuba After Brussels Attacks

Mar 22, 2016

President Barack Obama on Tuesday defended his decision to stay in Cuba where he attended a baseball game with Cuban President Raúl Castro during the aftermath of the deadly attacks in Brussels.

The commander-in-chief, who was criticized by some on social media after video surfaced of the two leaders doing “the wave” at the game, suggested it would have been a sign of defeat if the attacks derailed the historic visit, Politico reports. “It’s always a challenge when you have a terrorist attack anywhere in the world, particularly in this age of 24/7 news coverage,” Obama told ESPN. “You want to be respectful and understand the gravity of the situation, but the whole premise of terrorism is to try to disrupt people’s ordinary lives.”

The President recalled a pre-game speech given by former Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz, who told fans that " nobody is going to dictate our freedom" after the 2013 Boston marathon bombing. “That is the kind of resilience and the kind of strength that we have to continually show in the face of these terrorists. They cannot defeat America," the President said.

U.S. President Barack Obama, right, and Cuban President Raul Castro wave to fans as they arrive for a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national baseball team in Havana on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, and Cuban President Raul Castro wave to fans as they arrive for a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national baseball team in Havana on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.Rebecca Blackwell—AP
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, and Cuban President Raul Castro wave to fans as they arrive for a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national baseball team in Havana on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.
President Obama and his family watch a baseball game with Cuban President Castro in Havana on March 22.
CUBA-HAVANA-U.S. PRESIDENT-VISIT
Cuban Leader Raul Castro Hosts State Dinner For President Obama
Cuban President Raul Castro, right, raises the hand of U.S. President Barack Obama during a joint press conference at the Revolution Palace in Havana on March 21, 2016.
President Barack Obama lays a wreath for Cuban hero Jose Marti at Revolution Square in Havana, on March 21, 2016.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba's President Raul Castro hold their first meeting of Obama's visit to Cuba on March 21, 2016.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba's President Raul Castro shake hands in Havana
President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro review troops before bilateral meetings at the Palace of the Revolution on March 21, 2016 in Havana.
A car passes by a house decorated with the flags of the United States and Cuba in Havana, on March 20 2016.
President Barack Obama greets hotel workers in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, March 20, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
A Cuban woman poses for a picture with a sign displaying images of Cuban and U.S. Presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama in Havana on March 19, 2016.
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha greets dignitaries upon arrival in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, March 20, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama joins others in looking out the window of Air Force One on final approach into Havana, Cuba, Sunday, March 20, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Cuban citizens wacth as Air Force One lands at Jose Marti Airport in Havana on March 20, 2016.
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, and Cuban President Raul Castro wave to fans as they arrive for a baseball game betw
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Rebecca Blackwell—AP
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Obama was watching a historic matchup between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team when he was asked to weigh in on the coordinated attacks in the Belgian capital that left 31 people dead and at least 190 wounded. In an earlier speech in Cuba, he addressed the devastating bombings, saying the American people “stand in solidarity” with Belgium. “We will do whatever is necessary to support our friends and allies in Belgium in bringing to justice those who are responsible,” he said at the time. “This is yet another reminder that the world must unite.”

Obama told ESPN that he and other world leaders were committed to bringing extremists down. “We are going to continue with the over 60 nations that are pounding ISIL, and we're going to go after them,” he said, using another name for the terrorist group. "The notion that any political agenda would justify the killing of innocent people like this is something that's beyond the pale.”

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