Tours improve perceptions between U.S., Cuba
HAVANA — When President Obama reinstated “people-to-people” travel to Cuba in 2011, the idea was that visiting Americans would act as cultural ambassadors as the United States was constantly demonized in the island's official media.
Two-and-a-half years later, a survey shared exclusively with The Associated Press suggests the trips are not only improving Cubans' views of Americans. They are changing travelers' opinions of the Caribbean nation for the better, and dimming their view of Washington policies that have long sought to pressure Cuba's Communist leaders.
“I think U.S.-Cuban relations should be open. People should be talking to each other. People should be sharing,” said Ellen Landsberger, a 62-year-old New York obstetrician who recently visited on a people-to-people tour.
There's surely significant self-selection among people-to-people travelers; supporters of a hard-line policy against Cuba are unlikely to consider such a tour. And the people who run the trips tend to be more or less sympathetic toward Cuba, or at least to the idea of easing or lifting the 52-year-old embargo, which potentially could be a boon to their business.
Still, the results of the multiple-choice survey by Friendly Planet Travel, a company based in suburban Philadelphia that promotes legal tours of Cuba, are eye-catching.
Before travel, the most prevalent view of Raul Castro's government was “a repressive Communist regime that stifles individuality and creativity,” 48 percent of respondents said. That fell to 19 percent because of their visits, and the most-popular view, held by 30 percent of respondents, became the slightly more charitable “a failing government that is destined to fall.”
Most striking, 88 percent said the experience made them more likely than before to support ending the embargo against Cuba.
Peggy Goldman, president of Friendly Planet Travel, said visitors are surprised at how hard it is to find many goods, even something as basic as an adhesive bandage.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kurds rout ISIS from key town in Syria
- Prominent Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov shot dead
- Teacher turned notorious drug lord Gomez finally nabbed in Mexico
- Terrorists murder American blogger
- Snowed-in Afghans desperate in killer winter
- Fighting eases in eastern Ukraine
- Britain’s PM fends off scrutiny that security services dropped ball
- Terror ruled out in mysterious Toronto tunnel
- South Korea to tighten gun regulations as man kills 3, self
- 4 to chat in bid for peace in Ukraine
- Lebanon’s Hezbollah acknowledges battling Islamic State in Iraq