Cubans cautious, yet optimistic after one year of ties with U.S.

One year after re-establishing their diplomatic relations, Cuba and the United States still face many challenges, particularly the long-standing restrictions and mistrust between both governments that have led to limited results so far.

(Soundbite) Jesus Gancedo, Private-Sector Worker
“I think there should be a faster approach to discussing the economic and financial restrictive policies the U.S. has imposed against Cuba as well as other issues like the return of the Guantanamo Naval Base. If these topics are not talked in greater depth and with greater responsibility, the current rapprochement does not mean much for our country.”

Cubans remain cautious yet optimistic, after the re-establishment of bilateral ties on July 20, 2015, out of 50 years of enmity and confrontation.

(Soundbite) Paloma Palmes, Student
“So far everything has been the same, but I guess something will change. If both countries decided to (fully) normalize their relations, then something had to happen. After many years of not having links, something new must materialize between Cuba and the U.S.”

The U.S. economic embargo on the island remains in place, making a major obstacle for the full normalization of ties, something the majority of Cubans also demand as a necessary step for regular links with Washington.

(Soundbite) Jose Cardenas, Worker
“I think there have been progress and good intentions on both sides. However, many laws and measures that dictate the actual relations must be suppressed or eliminated. If that is achieved, we could have much more communication and understanding.”

Cubans widely believe that the bilateral exchange with the U.S. will boost the island’s economy in much-needed investment and more tourism, but many insist that it will be a very slow process.

(Soundbite) Francisco Grass, Retiree
“The relations are going at a slow pace, but already we can notice certain steps have been taken to establish a broader and productive relationship for both countries.”

Over the last year, Washington has allowed certain companies to do business with the Cuban government in tourism, agriculture and telecommunications. However, the vast majority of them still await the embargo to be totally lifted for deeper and wider engagement with the Caribbean country.

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