Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Embassy Opens and Obama Wants to Travel

He may not make it this year, but if President Obama visits Cuba next year, he can visit a functioning U.S. Embassy. The U.S. and Cuba agreed to reestablish their embassies on July 20, closed since 1961.

Obama will be welcomed. The recent stealth poll conducted in Cuba suggests Obama is very popular among the average Cubans (80% favorability, 44% Fidel) and they want him to visit (89%). (See The Buzz: Castro Brothers in Trouble, 4-22-15; U.S. vs. Cuba – Finite, 4-16-15; and Cuba – The Public is Ready for a Change, 12-29-14)

The latest Chicago Council on Global Affairs survey affirms earlier U.S. surveys that the public favors ending the embargo with Cuba (67%). But only 53 percent believe the change will “improve political freedoms in Cuba” and only 39 percent of Republicans believe it. Cubans in the recent island poll agree with that sentiment and the Washington Post editorial page recently criticized Obama’s eagerness to visit Havana in the face of what they described as increased political repression on the island as rapprochement proceeds.

But allowing U.S. citizens to travel to the island and Cubans to travel to America are the most popular policy changes among both publics. Assuming citizen power may have more influence on changing people’s lives and views than government-to-government actions let the travel begin.

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