In 1996, a Gallup poll revealed that only 10 percent of Americans had a favorable view of Cuba. Fast forward almost 20 years, and the same poll shows that 46 percent now have a positive view of the island.
In addition to this change in public opinion, very concrete shifts are occurring between the two countries. Here are four signs of impending change in Cuba:
1. Political connections
The United States and Cuba began talks in January that are scheduled to continue as the year goes on. A steady stream of congressmen and women have also been visiting the island to work on specific issues important to their constituencies.
2. Internet connectivity
It’s still prohibited for Cubans to have internet in their home, but there has been a rise in the number of state-run internet cafes. In the past, these cafes cost around $4.50 per hour, but the price has been steadily dropping. We expect that — with an increase in foreign tourism to the island — prices will continue to drop and more cafes will open.
3. US credit cards
One of President Obama’s recent reforms was allowing US credit card companies to operate in Cuba. While this is not yet fully implemented, it will radically facilitate commerce in Cuba. It’s predicted that many Cuban-American families will give credit cards to their families in Cuba as a way of sending remittances. This will also allow Cubans to purchase US services online; for example, Netflix recently began offering service in Cuba with a “limited selection” of films.
4. US entrepreneurship
Many American entrepreneurs have already begun planning new ventures for the Cuban market. A Florida businessman is establishing a catamaran that will ferry passengers from the Florida Keys to Cuba, and JetBlue has expanded its charter operations there. Many other large industries are eyeing the market eagerly. As the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said: it is better for the U.S. to sell computers, smartphones, and cars to Cuba than to cede such business to countries like Russia and China.
Here are some recent photos of contemporary life in Cuba published by a Seattle newspaper.
Want to visit Cuba before it changes drastically? Check out Discover Corps’ all-inclusive and historic trips to Cuba.