|Fidel (L) and Raul (R) Castro|
And, while most Cubans don’t expect much political change, they see the improved relationship with America as hugely important in their personal lives and prosperity.
Not only is the regime’s hold on public opinion weak, but the poll’s findings undermine much of the rhetoric of the Cuban apologists in Latin America’s leftist governments, political parties and intellectual cadres. One of their most repeated arguments is that Cuban dissidents are all CIA operatives. In fact, if Cuba had a multi-party system, a more free market alternative would likely be in power.
Data points from the poll challenging the Cuban status quo include:
Cubans See Economic Benefit
Americans are in favor of the re-establishment of the Cuban relationship – so even are Cuban Americans – but, as the unauthorized poll from Cuba shows, Cubans themselves express the greatest support for the new relationship.
- 97% of Cubans interviewed believe normalization would be good for Cubans
- 64% believe it will change the economic system, but 54% believe the political system will remain the same
- 96% favor ending the embargo
After 50 years of U.S. demonization by the Cuban government, dramatized by Raúl Castro’s hour-long diatribe against U.S. at the recent Panamanian summit, the average Cuban still likes America and wants to live here.
- 55% want to emigrate and half of Cubans polled (52%) say they want to live in the U.S.
- President Obama has an 80% positive rating among Cubans, and 89% believe he should visit the island
- Only 10% see the U.S. as not a friend of Cuba
Raúl and Fidel Castro rank in popularity among Cubans about where Barack Obama ranks in U.S. popularity, which, in a democratic system with regular elections, is manageable, but in an octogenarian autocracy about to pass off control, is dangerous.
Seventy percent said they would like to start a business; i.e., not work for the government, and, along with travel, opening a business was a top goal for Cuban families “in the next five years.”
Most people (75%) said they had to be careful about what they say, and the Communist Party had one of the lowest scores in the survey, with 32 percent giving it a positive rating.
Although no one should expect a revolution, the direction of Cuba in the next 10 years will unlikely be a continuation of the past 50, and the rate of change should intensify as Cuba begins to absorb the heightened influence of its diaspora to its neighbor to the north.
The survey, conducted by the Miami-based research firm Bendixen & Amandi International (B&A), was designed and administered without authorization of the Cuban government. Interviews were conducted in person among a random sample of 1,200 Cuban adults from March 17 to 27, 2015. The overall margin of sampling error for the poll is plus or minus three percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Univision Noticias and Fusion and the Washington Post sponsored the survey.