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
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    I agree with your observations.

  • March 14, 2016 at 10:14 am
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    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.
    LB

  • February 23, 2016 at 2:02 pm
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    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
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    Cuba – Tourism – the Future
    There are major tourism changes coming to Cuba.
    The main reasons are :
    1.
    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.
    2.
    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.
    3.
    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.
    4.
    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.
    5.
    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
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    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
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    Bob,

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

  • February 22, 2016 at 11:19 pm
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    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.

  • February 22, 2016 at 6:51 pm
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    John, while you responded to my post, you did not address my singular point about which is more important to the Cuban economy, the US government or the Cuban government.

  • February 22, 2016 at 3:14 pm
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    Bob,
    It is the government of the United States, foggy bottom that believes that the embargo is effective in immiserating all of Cuba and making communism ( actually state capitalism) look to be a failure.
    IF Cuba’s state capitalist economy were thought to be a failure in Washington, they would let it sink of its own failings.
    In maintaining the embargo, they are admitting that they believe that Cuba’s state capitalism would do just fine or at least a whole lot better absent the embargo.

  • February 22, 2016 at 3:09 pm
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    God, capitalism, the oligarchic government are all your masters.
    They are so good at what they do in making you think you’re in charge that you don’t even recognize your subservience.
    As far as bad taste goes, you are all in favor of intensifying the economic embargo on every man, woman, child and baby in Cuba.
    So yes a big earthquake or natural disaster and instant death is worse than slowly starving, I suppose .
    I can’t think like you do.

  • February 22, 2016 at 3:02 pm
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    I live in Florida so I know about Rubio.
    He’s fairly crazy-right and just behind Trump and Cruz in that category.
    Once and if Obama gets a ton of things opened between Cuba and the U.S. , Rubio , if elected , will not want to cut off that commerce.
    After all, the business of the U.S. is business.
    Either way, with Hillary or Marco , we get a center-right imperialist who will continue the status quo .
    They would not be the nominees of the twin parties of capitalism were they not center- right imperialists.
    IMO

  • February 22, 2016 at 2:18 pm
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    Do you actually believe that the Cuban economy is more dependent on the US government than the decisions made by the Cuban government? I know a good number of devout Communists in Cuba but none of them will go that far.

  • February 22, 2016 at 1:40 pm
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    John – are you aware that Rubio is the son of Cuban emigrants to the US and that because of their loathing of the Castro regime, Rubio has been brain-washed into loathing Cuba too? He thinks that embargoes and sanctions should remain in place so if he becomes President (which I seriously doubt), he won’t be doing anything positive for Cuba. He has never been to Cuba either. And the problem with the US population is that an awful lot of them are brainless, prejudiced Republicans who voted that moron Bush in so I don’t hold out a lot of hope for a sensible outcome.

  • February 22, 2016 at 11:41 am
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    At the same time, Cubans are not allow to move freely through their country, if you live in the provinces you cannot move to Havana.

    Cubans cannot associate freely, no other party than the communist party is allowed and if you try to create one, you and your family, including your children, are harassed by mobs incited by the government.

    Cubans cannot either leave or come back to ye island freely. They need the permission of the Government o do so and, if they stay longer than allowed abroad, they lose their property and citizens’ rights.

    Cubans earn the equivalent of $20 US a month salary, and though they have a food ration card that provides cheap sustenance enough for about 12 days, the rest of the time they should buy food and goods at prices 20% higher than US prices.

    Young Cubans put all of their hopes in leaving the country, about 80% of them plan their future around moving somewhere else in the world.

    Prostitution of both sexes is rampant as a whore can earn in a night the average monthly salary or more if they can get a foreign tourist.

    Cuba has one of the lowest internet connection rates in the world and one of the most expensive internet prices per hour.

    Cuba has no free press. All media and communications belongs to the Communist Party and no one is allowed to start alternative media.

    Cubans has very little economic freedom. They can only open small private business in very few lines of work allowed by the government, with a limited number of employees, and paying enormous taxes. They are not allowed to import or export. Cubans who work for foreign companies have to be vetted by the government and they receive about 10% of the salary pid by the company, the rest going the government.

    I am not going to comment much about the free indoctrination they receive as education, and that parents cannot choose the kind of education their children will get, or the sorry, ruinous state in which most hospital and clinics are, so much so that you have to bring your own sheets, bandages, and sometimes even water.

    Cuba is a paradise for tourists and foreing investors (no trade unions) and a hell for the nationals.

  • February 22, 2016 at 7:54 am
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    I have no “masters”. Your natural disaster comment is in poor taste.

  • February 21, 2016 at 9:37 pm
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    Your plan will lead to destruction of the robust Cuban culture and render Cuba to be no more than another Jamaica or the Bahamas.

    I live in Orlando. Thank goodness we have a strong medical research presence as well as a major technology focus thanks to our adjacency to the Kennedy Space Flight Center to offset the negative economic impact of the large number of low paying jobs in the tourist industry. Without those, Orlando would be a metro area comprised of $9- an hour hotel maids and ticket takers at the theme parks.

  • February 21, 2016 at 9:36 pm
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    Nicely and truly said Terry.

  • February 21, 2016 at 9:35 pm
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    Hey, with any luck a massive earthquake and volcano will destroy the island.
    One can only hope . it would serve them all right for resisting imperialism so long , eh Moses.
    Your doomsday scenario seems to be offset by a great deal of opportunities and hope for change starting to rise across the island.
    I get a local newspaper and several days a week there is news of air service opening , businesses heading there or opening trade relations through Port Everglades or the port of Miami or of the many openings of all sorts between the USA and Cuba now that Obama’s executive orders are taking effect.
    It ain’t over until it’s over Moses but right now it’s late in the game and your side is losing .
    The Cubans have held out 54 years . They will easily outlast people who think as you and your masters do.

  • February 21, 2016 at 9:25 pm
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    A look at a map of the world should tell you why the Malvinas should belong to Argentina , if any country.
    England no longer rules the seas and has given up most of its empire .
    The claim is a throwback to older grander times for the Empire

  • February 21, 2016 at 9:20 pm
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    VERY FUNNY!!!!
    Thank you.

  • February 21, 2016 at 9:19 pm
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    Griffin,
    What else should you have expected from Obama ? Traitor. Sell-out .
    The man was born in Kenya I know because I read it somewhere online .
    That some 40% of Republicans believe , in their hearts, that Obama is a Muslim is a sign that America is collapsing . Why doesn’t the entire country know these things ?
    AND…. in case you are the last one to know it , Obama IS a socialist, maybe even a ..a….a..communist ( Obamacare !!!) so his meeting with another socialist/commie is no accident.
    I heard from reliable sources that Obama is getting lessons on becoming a dictator from Raul and Fidel (when they’re not strangling babies) during his visit .
    .

  • February 21, 2016 at 9:10 pm
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    Not to worry Barbara, Trump will fade after a few more dropouts (Kasich, Carson) because those (saner, more rational ) supporters will likely go to the more moderate , Rubio .
    Trump can only get that 35% or so of brainless people that vote Republican. Once the race is down to two or three, Trump will get his 35% or maybe even 40% (there are a lot of people who vote Republican who “think” as he does) but that’s his ceiling. His opponent , likely Rubio will crush him one-on-one.
    There is a limit to stupidity even in the U.S. electorate.
    Cheer up.
    Then Rubio or Clinton will win the presidency and each , with minor and cosmetic differences , will continue the status quo in which the top 1% will get 90% of all money made in the USA. and that system will be enforced upon an often unwilling and troublesome, often ” terrorist” world just as it has been since 1918 or so.
    It is a necessary illusion to believe that Obama or any U.S. president is a force for good in the world or that praying will affect his conduct as leader of the American Empire.
    That is not the real world.

  • February 21, 2016 at 8:20 pm
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    You’d all better hope that Trump doesn’t become the next US President because he will undo all the good that Obama is doing. In fact, the world had better hope that Trump disappears up his own hair because all of the Americas south of the border will be stuffed and his prejudices will know no boundaries if he has any say in the matter. Please be kind to Obama meanwhile and pray that he and the Castros break bread and wine together so at least something worthwhile can be achieved.

  • February 21, 2016 at 7:06 pm
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    Sure doesn’t seem progress is moving as a fast pace so this certainly can’t hurt. Meeting with those who disagree with the present Cuban government is a major plus. Time will tell but seems the average Cuban hasn’t benefited much since Obama and Castro had that first hand shake.

  • February 21, 2016 at 11:18 am
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    No doubt all of this has been negotiated in detail. It sounds like Obama will be on Cuban TV. What i am wondering about is whether Obama will be on the street or in some other venue that will allow Cubans in large numbers to greet him.
    I expect the outcome will be a boost to Obama’s support at home and further isolation for those who want to maintain the embargo.

  • February 21, 2016 at 11:14 am
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    I think Obama is going to make Cuba great again.

  • February 21, 2016 at 12:46 am
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    Just two months ago, the president said that he would travel to Havana only “if, in fact, I with confidence can say that we’re seeing some progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans.”

    Well, President Obama, can you say that today? Repressions of dissidents has increased dramatically, the number of Cubans fleeing the island has soared, the number of self-employed has decreased and the Castro regime insists there will be no political reforms.

    By any measure, there has been no progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans. And yet he’s going anyway. Another unearned gift handed over to the Castro regime.

    If he does indeed meet with Cuban dissidents and lends them his moral support, his visit might be worthwhile. But if it’s nothing but a photo-op for his ego, then he will have betrayed the Cuban people for this dubious political legacy.

  • February 20, 2016 at 7:52 pm
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    What does “best expanding economy” mean exactly? Highest GDP? Fastest growing GDP? Greatest increase in income sectors? Do you just say this stuff because you want it to be true or do you have backup data? Cuba has poor worker productivity. Crumbling infrastructure. Disenchanted workers. Capital deficit. Stop me when I get to the bad news. Things are going to improve. Given the current state of affairs, it would be hard not to. But “best expanding economy”? Mexico, Chile, and Paraguay would disagree.

  • February 20, 2016 at 1:43 pm
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    Since 1993 I have made 90 research visits to Cuba and I am raising my two Cuban – Canadian children in Cuba.
    The visit by President Obama and the First Lady is extremely important for the ” Future of Cuba .”
    This is my vision for the new Cuba :::
    For the next 20 years Cubans will enjoy the best expanding economy in the Americas.The
    main reasons are : location – the new expanded Panama canal – an idea
    climate – very well educated youth – a great deal of undeveloped prime
    land – very little government and house hold debt – All private houses
    in Cuba are clear tile with no land taxes, There is little unfunded
    pension liability. Cubans
    have a very good medical and dental system which is paid for by state
    revenues. Education if no cost at all levels and Cuban children do twice
    as many hours in school as Canadian children do. Last
    year 1.3 million Canadians vacationed in Cuba and what this country
    needs is a major theme park. Orlando has 11 theme parks and is the most
    visited city in the Americas. Condos should be built for purchase by non
    Cubans on 99 year leases.
    Gordon Robinson Port Alberni B.C.
    [email protected]

  • February 20, 2016 at 12:28 pm
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    Of course it’s all still smoke and mirrors and window dressing until the U.S. economic embargo and all other U.S. interventionist policies are finally repealed against Cuba. That’s when things will really change on the island in a big way…and in one way or another.

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