News / USA

    Cuba Awaits Obama's Arrival

    Tourists ride in a vintage car in front of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, March 17, 2016.
    Tourists ride in a vintage car in front of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, March 17, 2016.

    Count the number of candy-colored classic cars at a Havana stoplight, and you’ll find just as many expectations for the imminent visit of U.S. President Barack Obama.

    There are those who hope the visit is a milestone en route to lifting the economic embargo by the U.S., and those who believe Cuba cannot really change under the current government.

    There are Cubans like Yosleny Borroto, who see the first state visit by an American leader since the 1920s as a sign of the changes she sees in her country.

    "He has been one of the U.S. presidents who has extended his hand to us. To help us … to help us get ahead as a country," said Borroto.

    Havana traffic faces off with roadwork ahead of President Barack Obama's visit. March 18, 2016. (Victoria Macchi/VOA)
    Havana traffic faces off with roadwork ahead of President Barack Obama's visit. March 18, 2016. (Victoria Macchi/VOA)

    Expectations|

    For Claudia Toledo, an international buyer for a major food company, the nascent rapprochement means her job could improve; access to machine parts from the U.S., for example. It also feels like a sign of more openness to practical, daily-life benefits, like more Internet access.

    "This participation from both sides is good for both countries," Toledo said.

    WATCH: VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from Havana, on Facebook.
    Click here.

    No one expects immediate changes — except for a few road repairs along Obama's route through the capital and at least a day without alcohol sales, as mandated by the government.

    Roadwork on the streets of Havana. March 18, 2016. (Ramon Taylor/VOA)
    Roadwork on the streets of Havana. March 18, 2016. (Ramon Taylor/VOA)

    Once the excitement fades, the trade embargo remains firmly intact, though the president's arrival with American CEOs (from Xerox and Marriott) hints at future business pacts. Commercial flights from the United States are already scheduled to resume later this year.

    Some fear more problems ahead

    But then there are Cubans like Oscar Casanella Saint-Blancard. He already feels targeted by the government for his friendships with outspoken dissidents, and fears that reestablished diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana not only fall short of real change, they may in fact bring more problems.

    "The first question is: What's going to be the behavior of the Cuban government" afterward?

    "It’s not enough to be more politically open or flexible," said Casanella. "... It's not enough that part of the embargo mechanism starts to crumble. Because there's an embargo from the Cuban government against the Cuban people, and I think that's the one that does the most damage."

    WATCH: What Would Cuban Citizens Say to Obama?

    What Would Cuban Citizens Say to Obama?i
    X
    VOA News
    March 19, 2016 7:51 PM
    Cuban citizens talk about what they'd say to President Barack Obama if they had the chance.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: jack g from: thailand
    March 20, 2016 8:21 AM
    Cubans are certainly naive about Obama and the USA.

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    March 19, 2016 6:58 PM
    This may just be a temporary illusion. If Donald Trump becomes President he might just press the reset button. Donald....this is the reset button, that one near you is the launch button. Careful, you don't want to push the wrong one.

    by: Ricardo from: Brazil
    March 19, 2016 3:13 PM
    The establishment of relations with Cuba is more important than most people think. President Obama Could take the opportunity of this historical moment to do a great service to all of Latin America and the U.S.

    Respect for civil rights goes far beyond not being arrested unjustly. In Brazil and in many Latin America countries thousands of people die in hospital's corridors without getting medical care, and this is only one problem.

    President Obama could make a statement supporting the fight against rampant corruption plaguing in Brazil and other Latin American countries. The American support would avoid many to immigrate to the United States in search for an honest government and better living conditions.

    Europe is suffering from the immigration of 4 million Syrians. But, without the American support the entire Latin America will end up in a huge upheaval. Then, there will be 400 million people trying to immigrate to the United States. The time to intervene and brake the corruption in Latin America is now; in a few years will be too late.

    by: panshwezin@gmail.cim
    March 19, 2016 2:03 PM
    Good

    by: Lou from: Atlanta
    March 19, 2016 9:55 AM
    Maybe he could talk them into turning off all the jammers on short wave. Think of the electricity they'd save.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora