Why President Obama Won’t Meet With Fidel Castro

PHOTO: Cuban President Fidel Castro puts his hand on the head of Elian Gonzalez, Dec. 6, 2005, in Cardenas Cuba. PlayJorge Rey/AP Photo
WATCH President Obama Begins Historic Visit to Cuba

Cuban President Raul Castro will roll out the red carpet for President Obama as he makes his historic trip to the island nation today.

But there's another Castro who will be conspicuously absent from the diplomatic fanfare: Castro's older brother Fidel Castro.

The White House says President Obama will not meet with the elder Castro during his two and half day visit to Cuba.

“Neither we nor the Cubans have pursued such a meeting,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters on a call previewing the president’s trip last week.

“He’ll be meeting with Raul Castro as the President of Cuba,” Rhodes continued. “That’s the appropriate government-to-government engagement, and so that’s what he’ll be pursuing.”

Since coming to power in 2006, when Fidel Castro stepped aside due to health problems, the junior Castro’s rule has been characterized by a softer, more pragmatic approach to engaging with the rest of the world. That shift has provided an opening for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and economic exchanges between the U.S. and Cuba.

While historic progress has been made in the U.S.-Cuban relationship in the last two years, the elder Fidel continues to represent an era of distrust and severed relations between the two nations.

Following the reestablishment of bilateral diplomatic ties, the elder Fidel published a letter in a Cuban state-run newspaper to express his cynicism at the road ahead.

"I don't trust the policy of the U.S., nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a peaceful solution to conflicts,” Castro wrote in the letter.