From the warmth of the initial handshake to sharing the excitement of a baseball game, U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic trop to Cuba was full of symbolism for the start of a new era.
CCTV America’s Michael Voss joined a Cuban family as they watched Obama deliver his much-anticipated speech on Cuban television. He included calls for political and economic reforms including internet for all.
His words received mixed reactions.
“President Obama seems a very spontaneous, a sincere person. I think one way or the other his speech has reached the Cuban people,” University student Amanda Perez said.
Meanwhile Miriam Olivera, a pensioner said that the Cuban embargo remains a huge barrier.
“Young Cubans don’t have internet, not because the revolution does not want it, but because of the blockade. I do not trust the Americans. I think they still want to take over Cuba but in a subtle way,” Olivera said.
Graphic designer Idania del Rio owns a shop called Clandestina and is frustrated at the lack of internet. She was one of the many Cuban entrepreneurs attending a business forum hosted by Obama and had the chance to voice her views.
Information is what we most need, she told him. She hopes that the Cuban government will respond to the U.S. offer to help Cuba expand its internet connections.
“For the Cubans to be in the global market place we need internet, otherwise we won’t be there,” del Rio said.
Many Cubans were also surprised to see their President Raul Castro taking tough questions at a press conference.
When asked about political prisoners in Cuba, Castro said: Give me their names, a list, and I will free them tonight.
The historic visit may be over, but it’s an encounter very few Cubans will ever forget.
Professor Eric Hershberg of American University on Obama’s visit to Cuba
For more on President Obama’s visit to Cuba, CCTV America’s Mike Walter interviewed Eric Hershberg an American University professor of government the director of the university’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies.