News / USA

Americans Want Closer Ties with Cuba

Americans Want Closer Ties with Cubai
X
February 04, 2014 5:17 AM
Since President Barack Obama reinstated limited travel to Cuba in 2011, hundreds of thousands of Americans have visited the communist island nation. Many of them say it is time to re-examine U.S.-Cuba relations, which have been frozen for more than 50 years. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Americans Want Closer Ties with Cuba
Zlatica Hoke
Since President Barack Obama reinstated limited travel to Cuba in 2011, hundreds of thousands of Americans have visited the communist island nation. Many of them say it is time to re-examine U.S.-Cuba relations, which have been frozen for more than 50 years.
 
Polls show that after making a visit to Cuba, many Americans decide they want closer U.S. ties with the island.  New Yorker Ellen Lansberger is one.
 
"I think U.S.-Cuban relations should be open. People should be talking to each other. People should be sharing. We have a whole free trade system going on between the U.S., Mexico and Canada without economic borders, and we have this tiny little island that is of no threat to the U.S. that we are isolating from the world. It doesn't make sense," said Lansberger.
 
The United States cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 after communist leader Fidel Castro came to power. It also imposed a strict economic embargo on the island nation, about 150 kilometers south of Florida. However, after more than 50 years of hostilities, many people on both sides say they want the embargo to end.
 
"I think the North American people are like the Cuban people, a caring people with love and the desire to express and communicate. I think what we are all missing is the possibility of receiving that warmth so we can understand each other better. We're neighbors after all," said Delia Maria Barroso, director of the Danzares dance troupe.
 
For years, any move by U.S. politicians toward improving relations with Cuba was thwarted by Cuban-Americans who fled the communist regime. Most of them live in Florida. but a new generation of Cuban-Americans, born in the United States, wants to be able to travel to their ancestral land. The Obama administration has permitted so-called "people-to-people" travel to Cuba, which allows Americans to visit the island if they have family there or want to go for a cultural or religious visit. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said this week that the United States will continue to update its policies on Cuba.
 
"Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans visit Havana, and hundreds of millions of dollars in trade and remittances flow from the United States to Cuba.  We are committed to this human interchange.  And in the United States, we believe that our people are actually our best ambassadors," said Kerry.
 
There are signs that the Cuban government is beginning to relax its grip on society.  Dissident Cuban author and blogger Yoani Sanchez told an audience at a literary event in Cartagena, Colombia, that she plans to launch a digital newspaper in her homeland with the idea of spurring press freedom. 
 
"The worst can happen, that the first day we open the medium they break the door and block the website, which wouldn't be that bad because there's nothing more attractive than what's forbidden, right? But it's also possible that we are here starting the roots of a press that can transcend the present moment and become the newspaper of the future," said Sanchez.
 
Sanchez said the Cuban government is making small concessions because it can no longer convince people that its communist utopia ever can be a reality.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs