HAVANA TIMES — The head of the Havana Historian’s Office, Eusebio Leal, in charge of the restoration of the city, said today that the Cuban capital is ready to welcome more United States visitors after the historic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States.
“The Investment has essentially already been made,” said Leal regarding the recovery of the Cuban capital, an architectural gem that has deteriorated significantly after decades of neglect.
The accomplished thus far “is a demonstration of what we could do (despite the US embargo),” said Leal at a session of the year of the Cuban Parliament on Friday, marked by huge expectations generated by the dialogue between Washington and Havana.
Although the US embargo imposed on Cuba since the early 60’s is still in place, US President Barack Obama announced Wednesday new relaxations for travel by US citizens to Cuba as well as several commercial restrictions.
While US citizens cannot officially sightsee in Cuba, hundreds of thousands visit the island every year on licenses for family travel or for educational or cultural visits. A large number of them are US citizens of Cuban origin.
This year, the number of arrivals of US citizens to Cuba will exceed the figure of 620,000, according to forecasts by the Association of Travel Agencies in Miami, where the main Cuban exile community lives.
“Tourism will undoubtedly generate more jobs and more wealth to Cubans. The government will also benefit greatly,” said Santiago Castro, president of the association in Miami.
The agreement between Washington and Havana announced Wednesday provides for the restoration of diplomatic ties after more than half a century of rupture. The rapprochement, negotiated during months of secret talks mediated by the Vatican and others, has generated enormous expectations worldwide.