HE MAKES quite a warm-up act. The Rolling Stones will play a free concert in Havana on March 25th in front of an expected audience of 400,000. Five days earlier Barack Obama arrived for a short state visit. Whatever he says, whatever he does, this is a momentous trip—the first by a sitting American president since 1928, when Calvin Coolidge sailed from Prohibition-era America for the Pan-American Conference in Havana.

Mr Obama can expect a warm welcome in Cuba. According to a poll last year he is more popular than either Raúl Castro, the president, or Fidel, his brother and the father of the Cuban revolution. Many Cubans have spoken of their enthusiasm for the arrival of a mixed-race president in their country, where non-white citizens are in the majority.   Continue reading