14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 20 January 2017 – There were two Donalds that Cubans associated with the United States: the cartoon duck and the famous hamburger chain. Starting Friday, added to the list will be Donald Trump, the new president of our neighboring country. Not as nice as the Disney character nor as addictive as fast food, the magnate also incites passions on this island.
After two years of a thaw between the governments of Washington and Havana, the process of normalization has come across as a obstacle in its path. The election of the controversial businessman to rule the fate of the United States threatens to alter the plans of the Plaza of the Revolution and shake up daily life on the island.
“If he manages to fix the economy of the United States, that will help us as well because there will be more money and tourism from there,” said Victor Manuel, a 28-year-old pedicab driver in the Fraternity Park area of Havana. The young man thinks that “Trump campaigning is one thing and it is something very different when he is in the White House.”
Not as nice as the Disney character with the same first name nor as addictive as the similarly named fast food chain, the magnate-become-president also incites passions on this island
In 2015, remittances to Cuba reached a record $3.35 billion, according to The Havana Consulting Group. The new relationship between the two countries has mainly favored this type of transfer. Limiting them would be a very unpopular measure among nationals.
Trumpmanía has come to the island and has many ways to express itself: if two months ago carrying an American flag could be read as a nod to Uncle Sam, today it can be a much more personal message and addressed to one man.
“That’s the guy that we needed, so he can put things in their place,” said Eduardo Mesa, who on Thursday connected on the wifi of the Latin American Stadium to inquire about the fate of two friends stranded in Colombia on their way to the United States.
Obama contributed to Trump’s popularity on the island in recent days. A few days after the White House tenant eliminated the wet foot/dry foot policy that benefits Cuban migrants reaching US territory, the popularity of the outgoing president has fallen to its lowest in eight years.
“He deceived us, he came and behaved like one of us to end up hurting us,” says Román, 27, a resident of Guanajay, who had his raft ready to launch into the sea to try to reach the American shores.
“I had the hydration salts, the engine, the canned food and a GPS bought clandestinely” to start the trip, but the departure date was scheduled for January 14, two days after the immigration benefits were suspended.
Lucia Pereira, a retired teacher and resident of Havana’s Lawton neighborhood, believes that Cubans will always remember Obama as “the American president who helped both countries reconnect and leave behind so many useless hatreds.” After the thaw, her son living in Miami has visited twice.
Norma is among those disappointed with the outgoing president. The 76-year-old woman has come to the parish of Calle Reina to buy a new bible because she gave the previous one to her daughter, who is on a medical mission in Venezuela. “She did not want to benefit from the [American] Parole program for doctors, but a very close friend yes,” they should do it, she says. The elimination of the program that benefited Cuban doctors who applied for residency in the United States was, in her opinion, “an Obama prank before saying goodbye.”
The elimination of the program that benefited Cuban doctors who applied for residency in the United States was, in her opinion, “an Obama prank before saying goodbye.”
Outside a church, Manolo, who asks for alms with a small image of San Lazaro, doubts that his luck will change with the new tenant of the White House. “Here poor people will remain poor, because it has nothing to do with what the US president does,” he told 14ymedio.
Dressed in a gray uniform and attentive to all who climb the steps of the University of Havana, a custodian, who prefers not to give his name for fear of reprisals, seems uninterested in the details of the government of the northern neighbor. “It does not matter, Obama or Trump is the same,” he says reluctantly. Nevertheless, he thinks that that difficult times are coming for Cuba because he doesn’t see any progress. “Trump can be good or bad, but what we need most is for the ones here to loosen their hands and take a breather, because we are drowning,” he concludes.
“Here poor people will remain poor, because it has nothing to do with what the US president does”
The island’s businessmen and merchants are feeling concern about the decisions of the new White House tenant.
At the market at Infanta and Manglar Streets the new president generates some expectations. “Last year we had many problems with the supply of products,” says an employee, “but if this man is as entrepreneurial as they say, he will improve business with Cuba and more products will arrive.” Among the “made in the USA” goods customers there prefer are “the frozen chicken, corn, beans, vegetables, tomato sauces and oats,” she details.
At the exit of El Presidente private restaurant, in the centrally located G street in the Vedado district, Christian was waiting on Thursday afternoon for a friend to eat together. “Havana is full of tourists thanks to Obama, but with Trump that can come to an end,” the German traveler visiting the island for the first time fears.
But there are those who cannot avoid looking at the internal key and turning their eyes into the Island. Yunior, 41 and unemployed, reflects: “The only thing I know is that since I was born I have seen eight American presidents and only two Cubans. Why is that?”