How Cubans think their lives will change with the end of the American embargo

Posted: 06-Jun-16 10:02

One of the best things about travelling to Cuba is the ability to engage with its people and experience different points of view. So, what do Cubans think about the possibility of an American embargo ending completely? A recent article examines the thoughts of locals, regarding the impact it could have on things like the arts, plus the fears that some people have about Cuba changing too soon.

How Cubans think their lives will change with the end of the American embargo

As Americans are now allowed to travel to Cuba under some categories allowed by OFAC and some are calling for an end to the longstanding embargo, others question what the future holds for the country’s locals. A recent article tackles that issue by posing the question directly to Cubans in terms of what they envision if the decades-long American embargo is fully ended.

Much has been said about Cuba’s potential changes, some are in favour, others are worried about Cuba losing its identity. Cuba is a destination that most travellers find unique and fascinating with something of a mystical magnetism about it. Yet, there’s a general absence of Cuban voices saying what they want, whether they want Cuba to change or not and how. This article tries to fill this gap by asking Cubans their different opinions on the subject.

With the thought of the end of the embargo potentially looming fresh in mind, Thump writer David Garber recently travelled to Cuba and posed the question to locals, asking for their thoughts of how they believe lives will change if the embargo should end.

As published on the Thump website, some locals, like a woman named Elina, responded that she felt lifting the embargo would be a good thing, but that it needs to fully happen. She adds that she believes Guantanamo should be part of the deal, that it should be turned back over to the Cubans.

Another person, Wilfredo, questioned how long the process would take and how long would pass before seeing a difference. He too called for a full lifting of the embargo, saying that if it’s done properly he suspects it will create a number of opportunities for fellow artists and Cubans.

A painter named Eddy remarked he is excited, yet nervous. He said he’s already seen Cuban and American artists make connections and is anxious to see where that leads now that the relationships are spurring expanded opportunities beyond what was once only available locally.

Eddy went on to say that lifting the embargo could have a global impact:

“Kids from all over the world will see these connections being established between these big nations despite their past issues, and it will give them hope and encourage art here in Cuba and around the world.”

Some, meanwhile, tap into the worry that many people have, suspecting Cuba may be changing too soon and could possibly lose its essence in the process. While a woman named Dolores declares that she believes it would result in change, she admits people are nervous and anxious because they are unsure about the future.

Meanwhile, a man named Ronald predicts that lifting the embargo would be good for artists in exposing them to others from around the world. He adds:

“There will be some good and bad things when the embargo is lifted, but whatever happens, we’ll adjust little by little. Hopefully it will all be for the best.”

A taxi driver named David believes the conversation needs to filter down to the people, for Cubans want the country to improve. David adds he worries that the safety and security currently felt by citizens could change if there’s a lack of communication in the future.

Fellow rumba musicians Emilia and Aniselen also touched on the need for conversation, especially among the younger generation of Cuban artists. Aniselen suggests that the diversity of places such as Santiago could change, but also that the people need to change with it, focused on equality between Americans and the Cuban people.

Finally, a builder and volunteer named Omar agrees the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba needs to be reciprocal. While he admits most Cubans are not used to luxury, they do know how to show others to exist in a sustainable way. Omar then declared:

“If we look back we only think with our hearts, but when we look forward we use our heads”.

Cuba’s young generation is already changing and adapting, as new start-ups have launched, including new retailers, the country’s first independent culture magazine, new nightclubs and even new apps, in a country that is still awaiting the expansion of wide-spread Internet service.

All of this is happening as more Americans take advantage of the relaxed travel restrictions, including anticipating the expected addition of American commercial airline flights later this year and growing interest from American hotel chains eager to buy up Cuban properties.


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