Wednesday, June 26, 2019

As Cuba opens up, Cuban-Americans weigh in

Cuba street

The Obama Administration’s decision in December to normalize relations with Cuba initially sent shockwaves throughout both the U.S. and the Cuban-Americans who call the States their home, after a half-century hiatus from diplomatic relations. Speculation that the gamble would spur radical outrage has simmered in the face of sensibility, where a slight majority of Cuban-Americans, according to a study presented yesterday at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, now support a normalization of relations between the two long-standing foes.

The study found that 51 percent now support the diplomatic efforts – up from 44 percent in December. “In the three months since President Obama’s historic announcement, rather than increasing opposition, the study reveals there is now slight majority support [among] Cuban-Americans for normalization of relations with Cuba,” said Fernand Amandi, principal of Bendixen & Amandi International, a research firm specializing in the Hispanic market and which carried out the poll.

With travel restrictions eased, American companies have already planted a stake in what they see as fertile Cuban soil. Most recently, Airbnb, the popular online lodging service, will now offer over 1,000 properties across the island ready for tourists immediately.

“We believe that Cuba could become one of Airbnb’s biggest markets in Latin America,” said Kay Kuehne, Airbnb’s regional director. “The hosts in Cuba have been doing for decades what we just started doing seven years ago.”

It is precisely business ventures like Airbnb’s that validate the contentious diplomatic decision from the Obama Administration. With the Cuban market ripe for exploration and numbers in support of normalizing relations enjoying an upward trend, the embargo still remains very much in place, but the situation in Cuba, as President Obama had admitted, “no es facil.”

NBC News