Newswise — Longtime congressman Lee Hamilton, a Distinguished Scholar in the Indiana University School of Global and International Studies and a professor of practice in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, said Obama's visit "represents a new approach to dealing with Cuba."

"We are 90 miles from Cuba, but this move has been half a century in the making," Hamilton said. "What is happening here is we are beginning an evolution of our relationship, a new era of engagement between the United States and Cuba. We want to see an opening up of travel and commerce. Our hope is that the president will speak out for greater freedom, both political and economic freedom in Cuba, and begin to press for change in that country. But we have to be very careful how we do that. In the past, we have conveyed a message of regime change or threatening the sovereignty of Cuba, and we must move away from that so that the Cuban people and the Cuban government do not feel threatened. "I’m very pleased that the American public seems to lopsidedly support the new initiatives toward Cuba. And we in the United States have to have confidence that over time as we engage more with the Cuban people politically, diplomatically, economically, that Cuba will move in the right direction. We have to chip away at the distress that has built up over the decades," said Hamilton, who served for 16 years as director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University (now the Center on Representative Government), which he founded in 1999.

Hamilton can be reached at [email protected].