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Cuban Government, Citizens In Different Moods On Eve Of Obama Visit

Cuban actor Esteban Nunez talks about his expectatins for President Obama's upcoming visit.
Cuban actor Esteban Nunez talks about his expectatins for President Obama's upcoming visit.

Cubans are getting ready for President Obama's historic three-day visit to their country starting Sunday. But the mood of the Cuban government and that of ordinary Cubans seem a bit different.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, for example, has been at the forefront of efforts to normalize relations between his country and the U.S. But at a press conference in Havana on Thursday, he didn't sound all that impressed with the progress. He called it "positive" that the Obama Administration this week relaxed even more regulations on doing business with Cuba. Those include letting Cubans use U.S. dollars in its international transactions. But Rodríguez insisted Obama should do more to get the U.S. trade embargo lifted.

Out on the streets, however, Cubans sound more enthusiastic about Obama's upcoming visit - the first by a U.S. president in 88 years. Near Havana's seaside Malecón, 28-year-old Esteban Nuñez told WLRN Obama's new Cuba policy has helped create more job opportunities for him and his family. That extra income, he added, has helped him finance new theater productions (including the musical "Les Miserables" next year, he hopes).

"Obama's visit is necessary for me, for my family, for my life, for our future," says Nuñez. "It's necessary for the people here in Cuba."

In Havana, Obama will meet with Cuban President Raúl Castro, political dissidents and entrepreneurs. He'll also take in a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, and deliver what the White House says will be a major speech Tuesday morning.

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