Cuban private sector dismisses fears of Trump's restrictions

Updated 2017-06-19 10:00:50 Xinhua

The Cuban business community has reacted to the rollback of American policy toward Cuba by U.S. President Donald Trump in a largely unconcerned manner.

The announcement restricts trade and tourism links between the two countries, but Trump's stance was brushed aside by Cuba's fledgling private sectors.

"I am not afraid. If we have gone through 59 years of crisis, what can be done that has not been done before? We have survived for 59 years and we have survived without them (Americans)," Guillermo Ochoa, a private artisan, told Xinhua.

Ochoa, who runs his business with his family on Havana's St. Francis of Assisi Square, defiantly vowed that "even if this tourism does not come, we will survive."

This feeling was shared by Jose Antonio Perez, owner of La Moneda Cubana, a small 12-seat restaurant, which was the first private dining venue to open in Havana's historical center.

"In my opinion, the impact will not be very large," said Perez, who added that the Cuban economy is not directly linked to the U.S, "our economy is not dependent on the United States, as it was...when the Soviet Union fell."

In a defiant move, Perez is actually planning to expand his restaurant.

While some still feel that the White House's decisions can have negative repercussions, they are not losing sleep. Guillermo Brito, who drives tourists around Havana on board his beautiful 1957 Ford Fairlane 500, is aware of both sides.

"There could be severe repercussions for those of us who work like this. We will see what happens but we must continue moving forward. Whatever happens, happens," he told Xinhua from the wheel of the car.

For now, the streets of Havana are filled with tourists who enjoy the sights of a peaceful and safe city, leading to a feeling of continuity.

"I am not afraid of Trump or of what Trump says. We, the Cuban people, will continue as we want, with Trump or without him," exclaimed Richard Gonzalez, the owner of a horse and cart to give rides to tourists.

Gonzalez, who is part of a cooperative, is keen for Cuba to become attractive for all, but dismisses Trump's move.

David, a U.S. tourist from Virginia, did not hide his sympathy for Cuba, which he has visited twice in two years.

"It is a wonderful place to be. The people are very friendly. I love this island," he explained.

In the first five months of this year, around 285,000 American tourists visited the island, as many as in all of 2016. However, this figure could now drop significantly in the future.

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