HAVANA — The restoration of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States unleashed expectations Thursday of even more momentous changes on an island that often seems frozen in a past of classic cars and crumbling Art Deco buildings.

On the first full day after the surprise announcement, many Cubans expressed hope that it will mean greater access to things taken for granted elsewhere, and will lift a struggling socialist economy where staples like meat, cooking oil and toilet paper are often hard to come by.

“It’s an extraordinary turn of events for Cubans and Cuban-Americans,” said Sandro Hernandez, a 42-year-old computer technician who hopes to see more jobs created.

That optimism, however, was tempered with anxiety. Some fear a cultural onslaught, or that crime and drugs, both rare in Cuba, will become common along with visitors from the United States. There is also concern that the country will become just another Caribbean destination.

“There are things that shouldn’t get lost, that have gone very well here even though Cubans complain,” said Nayda Martinez, a 52-year-old chemical engineer in Havana.

“I don’t want the system, the country or the regime, whatever you want to call it, to change,” Martinez said. “What the people want is to live better.”

That mix of good and bad was a common refrain Thursday among Cubans digesting the implications of a seismic shift between two Cold War rivals.

Trade with the U.S. will help the country develop, said 55-year-old homemaker Maria Betancourt, but she worried it would bring a kind of isolation.

“I wouldn’t want to lose that uniquely Cuban solidarity, or for this to become a more consumerist or individualist society,” she said.

Cuba is a place of contrasts. It matches the most developed nations in education and health indicators such as infant mortality. It has one of the lowest crime rates in the Western Hemisphere and some of the best-preserved habitat in the Caribbean, in part because of the lack of development.

But the majority of islanders still work government jobs that pay just $20 a month on average. Internet access is scarce, slow and expensive. There is almost no media that isn’t controlled by the state. The Communist Party is the only sanctioned political party, and that is not open to debate. Complaining about a pothole on your street is OK, but openly protesting the government can still land you in jail.

Cubans have learned to navigate their heavy-handed political system and figured out how to survive amid the scarcity, long lines and a chronic housing crunch that forces families to pack three generations or more under one roof. Many are eager for change, but no one yet knows what the diplomatic opening will bring.

Havana was quiet on Thursday. People went about their daily routines, with bicycle taxi drivers pedaling the streets looking for fares and fruit vendors calling out to passersby.

Journalists from around the world were hurrying to get into Cuba, hoping to secure accreditation from a government that controls who is allowed to report from a country many believe is at a turning point.

In announcing that the U.S. and Cuba would resume diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961, President Barack Obama said he still has concerns about human rights, democracy and freedom of expression on the island. President Raul Castro said he still wants an end to the trade embargo that has choked off commerce to the island and has kept generations of Americans from being able to visit.

Last year, Cuba began allowing its citizens to travel abroad without first getting permission from the government. Many now have access to consumer goods like smartphones and flat screen TVs from overseas. Not only is that likely to expand, but remittances from abroad could surge, helping people to start more businesses and repair crumbling homes.

Castro has introduced economic reforms, letting hundreds of thousands of people run small private businesses.

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