Cubans watch presidential inauguration on Venezuelan network

HAVANA – Cubans in Havana watched the presidential inauguration in Washington Friday on their televisions.

Many said they are especially curious to see what a Donald Trump administration will mean for the future of the communist island.

Cubans were able to see the inauguration through Telesur, a network out of Venezuela.

The inauguration was announced at 1 p.m. on state-run TV and was the fifth story in the newscast, but Cubans on the street knew very well what is happening.

Monica Fajardo, 33, told Local 10 News reporter Hatzel Vela that she hopes the Cuban situation gets better, but she’s not convinced much will change.

She said now with the wet foot, dry foot policy gone, a lot of Cubans who looked to that for an escape now can’t.

She hopes if any doors close, others open.

Either way, she said she simply wants the lives of the Cuban people to get better.

Dr. Giovanny Ponte, told Vela that he believes Trump has contradicted himself, even when it comes to Cuba.

He said first Trump agreed with former President Barack Obama’s policy on Cuba, and then said he would overturn Obama’s policies toward Cuba.

“Here in Cuba, he thinks the government has a good approach, and that is to wait and see,” Ponte said.

Cuban analyst Carlos Alzugaray said when it comes to Cuba, Obama paid a political price and opened the doors for Trump.

“The economic changes in Cuba and the political changes in Cuba represent an opportunity for the United States, but only if there are normal diplomatic relations,” he said.

Both countries have already signed close to 20 agreements, but critics of Obama said the U.S. has not received anything in return from Cuba.

Alzugaray disagrees.

One example, he said, is simply of having an American embassy in Havana.

“An American embassy in Cuba can do way more than a Cuban embassy in the United States,” Alzugaray said.

He said with the embassy, American diplomats can bring concerns to the Cuban government and have access to people in civil society.

But ask members of the Ladies in White, Coco Farinas or other high-profiled dissidents and they’ll tell you another story.

The feeling on the island is that Trump has an agenda and Cuba is probably not at the top of the list, so it could be weeks before the public sees anything when it comes to U.S.-Cuba relations.

Hatzel Vela,

January 20, 2017

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