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Boston Playwright Melinda Lopez On President Obama's Cuba Speech11:00

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President Barack Obama waves to members of the audience after speaking at El Gran Teatro de Havana, Tuesday, March 22, 2016, in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)closemore
President Barack Obama waves to members of the audience after speaking at El Gran Teatro de Havana, Tuesday, March 22, 2016, in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The deadly bombings in Brussels have colored the international headlines this week. The attacks came as President Obama was amid an historic trip to Havana, Cuba — the first presidential visit since 1928.

Since then, there were years of exploitation by the U.S. — a revolution, the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis and decades of isolation. Tuesday, in Old Havana, the president acknowledged the political and economic differences that still separate Cuba and the U.S. — but he reached out directly to the Cuban people and appealed for reconciliation.

"I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas," President Obama said. "I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people."

The president spoke of all that unties the people of Cuba and the U.S. — including the many Cuban-Americans who travel back to the island. And he told this story of Boston playwright Melinda Lopez.

"You see it in Melinda Lopez, who came to her family’s old home. And, as she was walking the streets, an elderly woman recognized her as her mother's daughter, and began to cry," the president said. "She took her into her home and showed her a pile of photos that included Melinda's baby picture, which her mother had sent 50 years ago. Melinda later said, 'So many of us are now getting so much back.'"

Lopez made that trip to Cuba back in 2011. And Tuesday, she had no idea that President Obama was going to talk about her story.

Guest

Melinda Lopez, playwright, actress and educator.

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The Boston Globe: Obama Highlights Boston Playwright’s Cuban Connection

  • "Acclaimed Boston playwright-actress Melinda Lopez, the daughter of Cuban immigrants, canceled an engagement Tuesday so she could watch President Obama’s historic speech from Havana, considering it 'an incredibly important day for Cuba.' Little did Lopez know that she herself would make a vivid cameo appearance in the president’s address."
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