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After the Congressional Visit, Cubans Await Obama's Next Step With Joy and Hope

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The Seven Passing By Thebes.

The visit of seven members of the United States Congress to our country has intensified expectations about an avalanche of American tourists. The owners of rooms for rent calculate the potential earnings and the taxi drivers dream of those chewing gum who leave generous tips. At Terminal Two in Jose Marti Airport some have already arrived, confident of the early relaxation of travel restrictions to Cuba. People have nicknamed these early visitors "the brave ones"; I don't know if it's for the risk they've assumed in the face of the laws of their country or because of their audacity in coming to an Island where, according to the official version, they're "the enemy."

The expected "normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States" must occur mainly between the two administrations. At the level of the people, we've been in agreement for some time, it's only our leaders who fail to realize it. Our Nation is bi-territorial, given the large number of compatriots living in the United States. Hence, the Cuban side is more interested in the relationships flowing on both sides of the Straits of Florida. However, it seems that Obama will take the first step, not Raul.

I have difficulty calling to mind a single day in these last fifty years without the warning that the powerful neighbor was thinking of invading us. What will happen with the slogan, "Cuba Si! Yankees No!", with the imported shout of "Gringos" when we are all greeting them here cordially, the "yumas"? Most of the political speeches of the last fifty years would become anachronistic and there wouldn't be any "boogeyman" with which to frighten schoolchildren. What will the party militants think if they're ordered to accept those whom, until recently, they hated. How can David look good in the photos if, instead of the stone and the slingshot, he sits down to talk to Goliath.

Curiously, I don't see anyone on the streets upset in anticipation of these changes. The nervousness is only among those who have used the confrontation to stay in power. Rather, I observe the joy, the hope, the slight impression that the distance between Miami and Havana might become smaller and more familiar.