Speaking before a supportive crowd of Cuban-Americans in Miami, Trump said he was rolling back Obama- era ties because it led to too many U.S. travelers and businesses delivering cash right into the hands of the Cuban government. Trump said Americans were staying in government-run hotels, eating in government-run restaurants and not delivering any benefit to the impoverished people of the island.
Dervis Diaz, 43, disagrees. The Havana native drives visitors around in a red, 1957 Dodge Coronet, and he said the rush of Americans to Cuba over the past 2 ½ years has helped him and his family, as well as friends who rent out their homes to visitors.
Diaz acknowledged that the Cuban government still hasn’t made all the changes demanded by Trump, such as releasing all political prisoners and changing its economic and political systems. But Diaz said its unfair to punish regular Cubans like him just because the government hasn’t completely bowed to U.S. demands.
“The opening has helped our economy tremendously,” said Diaz. “But it’s impossible for everything to change the way they want in just two years.”
Elio Hidalgo Riveron takes a more historical approach when trying to understand Trump’s sudden change. During his speech, Trump rattled off a series of horrendous acts committed by the Castro brothers, going back to the firing squads employed during their revolution in the 1950s and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
Riveron, 57, a sociologist who lived in Europe and Africa before returning to his native Cuba, said Trump needed to go back even farther to find an equivalent for his Cuba policy.
“He’s taking America back to the 1920s,” Riveron said, referring to the country’s policy of isolation following World War I. “We see it happening now with the United Kingdom pulling out of the European Union. We see Trump doing it with your country. It’s wrong. It’s sad.”
Watch: Trump says he’s keeping his promise on Cuba