HAVANA, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) — The announcement of Barack Obama's visit to Cuba in March has sparked hope that the U.S. president will gain a clearer understanding of the harm his country's embargo has brought to the island.

"Obama is showing courage about Cuba," said Maria Milian, an 80-year-old who has been living in Havana throughout decades of confrontation between the countries.

Since the Cuban revolution began in the 1950s, Milian saw more than 10 of her uncles leave for the U.S., where she now has over 40 cousins. She expressed confidence that ties would be normalized between the neighbors.

On Thursday, Obama wrote on his Twitter account that he would visit Cuba on March 21 and 22, accompanied by his wife Michelle Obama.

The White House stated that this "historic visit" showcased Obama's determination to turn over a new leaf in relations between the two countries.

For Maria Elena Piedra, a primary school teacher from the Havana district of Vedado, Obama "is fulfilling his campaign pledge." "This is the change that Obama talked about," said the teacher, 54, who said she was pleased when the two countries restored ties in July.

Yaimara, a 22-year-old design student, was similarly optimistic and expressed her hope that Obama's visit "would help Congress to lift the embargo and improve Cuba's access to goods."

Those interviewed by Xinhua in Havana hoped that this trip would allow Obama to better understand the Cuban reality.

"I hope Obama walks our streets and speaks with the common people. That is where the effects of the embargo are most felt," said Lazaro, a construction site boss.

A Cuban netizen said on the website of the Havana-based think tank Cubasi that, "I'm going to take him to have lunch at my local diner so he can see the effects of his government's cruel and ruthless embargo against us."

Maria Elena del Rio, a laboratory technician at a maternity hospital, was a little skeptical, stating that longstanding differences would not so easily be solved after over half a century of enmity, no matter how happy people were of the visit.