Ordinary Cubans hope for change after Obama's visit

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Ordinary Cubans hope for change after Obama's visit
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Ordinary Cubans hope for change after Obama's visit
Yoendry Gainsa, 35, a bricklayer, holds his daughter while posing for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Gainsa said "I hope everything gets better and that there will be better work and development for our children. Long live Obama." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Carlos Alvarez, 54, poses with his pet parrot for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Alvarez said "New changes, it was a blessing that he came and God willing the new U.S. president will do the same. Obama is an example." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Jimmy Blanco, 9, holds a corncob while posing for a photograph in front of the Cuban and the U.S. flags in Havana, March 23, 2016. Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Paloma Duarte, 18, a dancer, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 23, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Duarte said "Developed the communication between us. We have family here and there (in the U.S.) and an urgent need to be able to go." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 23, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Zamora, 55, self-employed, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags after buying a pineapple in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Zamora said "It's good for the Cubans that he came and re-established relationships between the two countries." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Jurangel, 25, a dancer, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Jurangel said "Spectacular." Picture taken March 25, 2016. Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Lazaro Roger, 56, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 23, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Roger said "This is grand, historical and very positive that the USA have realized after all these years that the embargo is not worth it." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 23, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Raciel Cardoso, 30, a musician, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 23, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Cardoso said "This is very good, the perfect union between two countries, and that everything changes now for the better." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 23, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Manuel, 52, a bricklayer, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Manuel said "I hope with this visit there will be a little more survival." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Concha gestures while posing for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Concha said "A life struggle." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Eric, 3, gestures while posing for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Pascual Montero, 86, who collects plastic containers from restaurants and resells them, smokes a cigar while posing in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Montero said, "It was perfect and I have hopes that some day a lot of problems can be resolved." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Guillermo Manzano, 54, a welder, eats cake while posing for a photograph in front of Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 23, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Manzano said, "The best, the greatest thing that has entered this country." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 23, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Yaneisy, 28, between jobs, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Yaneisy said, "I don't care." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Sarah Maria, 50, a transvestite, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 23, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Maria said "I believe this could be very important for my country." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 23, 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
Irma Diaz, 55, a housewife, poses for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana, March 25, 2016. Regarding Obama's historic visit to the island, Diaz said "I am happy with the friendship between Raul (Castro) and Obama." Struggling under a U.S. embargo and still only cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet. Residents of Havana hope that U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba last month will bring material improvements to their lives. Picture taken March 25 2016. (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)
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HAVANA, April 6 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama's historic March visit to Cuba has not fixed all of the thorny issues between the two countries, but it did spark hope among Havana residents that closer ties with the United States will improve their lives.

"I hope everything gets better and that there will be better work and development for our children. Long live Obama," said bricklayer Yoendry Gainsa, 35, holding his daughter while posing in front of the Stars and Stripes and the Cuban flag.

Laboring under a half century-old U.S. trade embargo and cautiously emerging from a Soviet-style command economy that prohibited almost all private enterprise, many Cubans find it hard to make ends meet.

SEE EARLIER: Cuba's Fidel Castro knocks sweet-talking Obama after 'honey-coated' visit

Pictures taken by a Reuters photographer of regular Cubans in front of a house that had been draped in flags for Obama's March 21 to 23 visit along with snapshots of their thoughts can be found above.

Obama's trip, the first by a sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 years, came after he and Raul Castro agreed in 2014 to normalize relations. Since then they have reopened embassies and the United States has relaxed travel and some trade restrictions.

During his trip Obama said the embargo was obsolete and did not serve U.S. interests. He cannot lift trade prohibitions without support from Congress, but Cubans were inspired by his rhetoric.

"This is grand, historical and very positive that the USA has realized after all these years that the embargo is not worth it," said smartly suited Lazaro Roger, 56.

The Republican party, which controls the U.S. legislature, for the most part does not support Obama's policy. Critics of the visit have said it was not rewarded with improved human rights measures by the Cuban government, which stifles dissent.

Fidel Castro, who led the revolution that overthrew a pro-American government in 1959 and who stepped down as Cuba's president in 2008, was scornful of Obama's "honey coated" exhortations to Cubans to put the past behind them.

For others, like unemployed Yaneisy, sporting a punk hairstyle that is a sign of Cuba's growing tolerance for youthful diversity, Obama's presence meant little to their daily lives. "I don't care," said the 28-year-old, who declined to give her last name.

But for others in Havana's colonial-era streets, Obama's visit inspired optimism.

"This is very good, the perfect union between two countries, and everything changes now for the better," said musician Raciel Cardoso, 30.

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