HAVANA, Cuba – President Barack Obama began the Cuba news conference by addressing death of Marine Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin of Temecula.
Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, a 27-year-old field artilleryman with Battalion Landing Team, died Saturday about 9 a.m. from wounds suffered when his military unit was hit by rocket fire, the U.S. Department of Defense and Military Times said. The incident remains under investigation.
"During this weekend, I received news that one of our outstanding United States armed service members, Marine Staff Sergeant Louis F. Cardin of Temecula, California, was killed in northern Iraq as we assisted the Iraqi government in dealing with ISIL, the terrorist organization there. And I just wanted to give my thoughts and prayers to the family there and those who have been injured. It’ s a reminder that even as we embark on this historic visit, there are U.S. armed servicemembers who are sacrificing each and every day on behalf of our freedom and our safety, so I’m grateful to them."
Obama continued his speech while standing alongside alongside Cuban President Raúl Castro by saying that he had "frank conversations" with Cuba's leader on democracy and human rights and pledged Monday to continue to raise human rights and civil rights issues, "Including the right of the Cuban people to decide their own future."
"Cuba's destiny will not be decided by the United States or any other nation," Obama said at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana.
Like Castro, he also called on Congress to end the trade embargo between the two countries.
Castro said Monday that his country was making progress on economic reform, but he lambasted the longstanding U.S. embargo that prevents a full restoration of ties between the two countries.
Much more could be done if the U.S. blockade could be lifted," Castro said. "The most recent measures adopted by his administration are positive but insufficient."
Castro also insisted upon the return of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station to Cuba during his remarks, which were translated from Spanish.
Obama declared Monday that the embargo between the U.S. and Cuba would end, though he couldn't predict when exactly Congress would take steps in that direction.
"The embargo is going to end," Obama said. "When? I can't be entirely sure, but the path will continue after my administration. The reason is logical, because what we saw after 50 years didn't work."