This Evening’s Photo from Old Havana

After watching Obama’s historic speech from the newly restored Gran Teatro de la Havana, a stone’s throw from where our Cuban workshop stays at the Parque Central, I was missing Cuba.

“I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas” said President Obama in a truly remarkable speech heard by Cuban society from the average working Cuban watching live to President Castro and his fellow politicians in the theatre.

It’s hard for me to imagine the speech not having a positive impact on Cuban society and though changes are likely, I don’t think it will happen as quickly as some people are predicting. The Cuban culture is rich and varied and the population is highly educated, but very poor. In fact, one of the greeters at the restaurant we (and Obama) visited (see below) was a physician in his day job–but the $30USD a night the restaurant paid was considerably more than his Doctor’s salary.

The Cuban people, particularly those not working in tourism- where the money is- are very poor. So I can’t see American business rushing to the island, unless it’s tourism-related.

The “San Cristobal” paladar (or private restaurant) is where the Obama family dined on the first night and where our workshop crew eats on the last night. I’m not surprised that the first family dined there since the place is adorned with photos of famous customers, form Beyonce to Mick Jagger. It really is great food and a museum-like atmosphere (in a good way) priced not cheap by Cuban standards, but a great deal when you come from North America.

Looking forward to going back in May and hearing the gossip, and what they ordered for dinner.

A bar, close to where President Obama spoke live to the Cuban People.
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  1. says: Sheilah

    Thanks for posting this Steve.

    I was so moved by President Obama’s speech this morning to the Cuban people. It was beautiful and I hope inspiring to the Cubans. He struck the perfect note. It was one of President Obama’s greatest speeches and I believe it will become part of Cuban history.
    This was President Obama at his very best. I hope his speech becomes a catalyst for change in Cuba.
    The speech was so good I want a printed copy.
    Viva President Obama! Viva Cuba!

    1. says: Steve Simon

      I agree, it was a remarkable speech. Juan Carlos hoped that it was in fact being broadcast live to the Cuban people but even he was skeptical and wondered if that were the case. Regardless, the steps set in motion will not go back so it’s first steps towards better things for the Cuban people I hope. Obviously the previous 50 years of embargo didn’t promote much change within the system, just harder times for the people.