Obama to Bring Renewed Hope to Cuba

By Café Fuerte

Message from Barack Obama
Message from Barack Obama

HAVANA TIMES — President Barack Obama said on Saturday that his upcoming visit to Cuba will advance the efforts of his administration to build a future with more freedom and opportunity for the Cuban people.

“I’m focused on the future, and I’m confident that my visit will advance the goals that guide us—promoting American interests and values and a better future for the Cuban people, a future of more freedom and more opportunity,” said Obama in his weekly broadcast from the White House.

It was the culmination of a week full of events on Cuba, beginning with the signing in Havana of an agreement allowing for direct flights between the two countries. This was followed by the visit to Washington of the Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, for a dialogue on business opportunities and obstacles to overcome. The intense week was topped off by the official announcement of Obama’s trip to Havana in March.

Obama reiterated that during his trip to Havana, scheduled for March 21-22, he will meet with Raul Castro and speak candidly about his government’s important differences with the Cuban government on democracy and human rights, and reaffirm that the United States will continue defending universal values such as freedom of expression, assembly and religion.

Obama, who leaves office in January 2017, also said he will meet with members of civil society in Cuba, whom he described as “courageous men and women who give voice to the aspirations of the Cuban people.” He will also talk with new entrepreneurs trying to progress with their new businesses .

“And I’ll speak directly to the Cuban people about the values we share and how I believe we can be partners as they work for the future they want,” said Obama in his message.

Obama predicted that when the direct flights and sea ferries begin operating, even more US citizens will have the opportunity to travel and meet Cubans, noting that with the new Wi-Fi hot spots on the island, more Cubans are starting to go online and get information from the outside world.

It is expected that direct flights between the two countries will resume in the fall, but there is still no date for ferry trips and cruises due to pending permits from the Cuban government.

“In Cuba today, for the first time in a half century, there is hope for a different future, especially among Cuba’s young people who have such extraordinary talent and potential just waiting to be unleashed,” said Obama.


31 thoughts on “Obama to Bring Renewed Hope to Cuba

  • March 14, 2016 at 11:43 am

    I agree with your observations.

  • March 14, 2016 at 10:14 am

    I just got back from a two-week trip to Cuba. Spent time in la Habana, Prinar del Rio, Cienfuego and Trinidad.
    Life is extremely difficult in Cuba. Supermarket shelves are empty. People earn very little. The equivalent of $15 to $20 for the average person. Doctors earn about $29. Life is extremely difficult. Never mind going out to dinner. Never mind eating beef. In fact, we were told by more than one source that it is illegal to eat beef. I could not understand that when on the long drive to and from Pinar del Rio you acres and acres of land with thousand of cattle. I guess they are all being exported.
    We spent two nights on a farm. The farmer told us that the government takes 90% of this Tabaco harvest. They also take his cattle. He indicated that they pay him for his cattle but that it barely covers to cost of feeding them. He indicated that God help him if someone were to steal one of his cows. He would be responsible for it and he could get up to 20 years of incarceration. Meanwhile they can’t eat beef.
    Cubans are very resourceful and enterprising. They’ll figure out how to make an extra buck or two. They’ll buy a 60-minute internet-access card for $1.00 and sell them to tourist for $3.00. BTW, American phone will not work in Cuba. Neither will ATM cards. Perhaps that will change with the lifting of the embargo.

    The embargo, in my opinion has been a mistake. Not only has it contributed to keeping the standard of living low but I believe if was not in place for the past 58 years that it would have eroded their communism. Communism does not work. Just take a look at Russia and China where capitalism has flourished. The standard of living is much higher and people have greater freedom.
    Our tour guide in la Habana was a college professor. She left that because she makes more as a tour guide, given the tips they earn. Our cab driver was a Chemist. He makes more driving a taxi.

    They do not covert the CUC (the convertible peso) to the national peso because the government will take 82%.
    When I mentioned the free health care . . . she indicated . . . “What do you mean “FREE” health care? I pay for it with the 82% currency conversion.
    There is NO freedom in Cuba, contrary to what I’ve read in some of these posts. People can’t travel. They apply for a travel permit. The application fee is $175 and if they are denied travel they do not get a refund on the fee. That’s the equivalent of a year’s income.

    We did have a need to visit one of their International clinics. The medical care provide was good.
    Anyway, Life is very difficult in Cuba.

  • February 23, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    You are grasping at straws. Cuba’s problems are systemic. They are endemic of a socialist country (just look at Venezuela) as long as Cuba remains an authoritarian state that relies on central planning to manage it’s economy they will be a failure. All the theme parks and tourism in the would won’t change that.

  • February 23, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Cuba – Tourism – the Future
    There are major tourism changes coming to Cuba.
    The main reasons are :
    Many of the top resorts will change from All Inclusive to the American
    Plan where the guests pay for food and beverage on site. This will
    result in greater tips and less food waste.
    Many of the new resorts will have a condo sections and they will be
    sold to non Cubans. The Melia Marina Varadero will offer the first
    condos to be sold.
    Rural areas are being considered for cabana type communities and they
    will be sold or built to order. The first one may be built beside the
    Marea del Portillo resort in Granma Province.
    A theme park – ” The Pirates Place ” is being considered for Varadero.
    In could be a joint venture between the government of Cuba and the
    richest person in China – Mr. Wang Jianlin. His newest complex is near
    completion and this U.S. $ 8.2 b project contains a theme park. It is
    located in Quingdao China.
    Many cruise ship companies plan both home port and port visits in
    Cuba. The new Carnival Vista will be launched shortly and the main
    lounge has a Havana theme. Many multilingual Cubans will be employed on
    these cruise ships.
    6. The government of Cuba is Looking into medical and dental tourism.

    Since 1993 I have visited Cuba 90 times on research and have two Cuban –
    Canadian children ( 13 & 15 ) that are being raised in Cuba. The
    future of Cuba looks to be extremely good. Gordon Robinson Port Alberni B.C.
    [email protected]

  • February 23, 2016 at 5:37 am

    I was following you quite well until the theme park idea. Of all the pressing issues in Cuba, I don’t understand why a theme park would be one of the first things you’d mention. Besides, if Havana began to resemble Orlando, it would soon be off my travel itinerary.

  • February 23, 2016 at 1:30 am


    Congratulations. You have noticed that John never actually addresses the topic of the thread. Move on.

  • February 22, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    Wrong again. I serve only God. Government serves me and capitalism is an economic sys
    tem and therefore, outside the realm of serving or being served. Wishing for the death of millions of innocent people, whether fast or slow, is disgusting.

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