Most Cubans are beamishly optimistic when it comes to their country's evolving relations with the United States, but many doubt the new era of openness will bring significant political reforms to their island, according to a new Bendixen & Amandi Poll for Univision Noticias - Fusion in collaboration with The Washington Post.
A whopping 97 percent of on-island Cubans think the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States is good for their country, and 73 percent say they're feeling optimistic about their family's future, especially when it comes to the possibility of traveling abroad, starting a business or opening a savings account.
Most Cubans also think their country is getting the better deal in the bargain. Fifty-eight percent of Cubans think their country stands to benefit more from the arrangement more than the U.S., according to the poll. Only 5 percent think the U.S. is getting the better deal, and 33 percent think both parties will benefit equally.
Cubans are especially optimistic about the possibility of increased tourism. A definitive 96 percent of those polled said tourism will benefit Cuba by creating jobs and bringing wealth to the island, while only 2 percent said they are worried about the corrupting effects of tourism.
Although Cubans are hopeful about economic changes, most think their country's political system will remain as is.
Sixty-four percent of Cubans think the new relationship with the U.S. will "change the economic system" on their communist island, while only 37 percent predict similar changes to come to communist-led political system. More than half (54 percent) of Cubans polled think their political system will remain the same, and 62 percent think their island will continue to be governed by a one-party system.
Some political change would be welcome, however. Only 32 percent of Cubans say they have a positive view of the Communist Party, and slightly more than half (52 percent) would like there to be more than one party competing for power. Cuba's opposition groups, with a 46 percent favorability rating, poll higher than the ruling party, according to the poll.
Overall, most Cubans are more disenchanted with their economic situation than their political system. Nearly eight out of 10 Cubans said they are dissatisfied with the economic system, while 53 percent said they are not satisfied with the political system. So fixing the economic situation on the island is clearly the priority.
Not everything needs an overhaul. Cubans are also generally satisfied with their government's health and education systems. Seventy-two percent of Cubans they were "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with their country's education system, while 68 percent said they were satisfied with state health-care system.
The poll was a door-to-door survey done without the authorization of the Cuban government in all 13 provinces of the island between March 17-27. The survey was conducted by a team of local Cuban interviewers led by Miami-based research firm Bendixen & Amandi. The data offers a unique insight into public opinion on an island where reliable polling is notoriously difficult and where 75 percent of Cubans claim they have to be careful what they say in public. The opinion poll claims a margin of error of 2.8 percent, with a 95 percent confidence level. It's considered the most comprehensive and largest independent survey in Cuba in more than 50 years, and is the first public opinion poll conducted on the island since Presidents Obama and Castro announced a normalization of relations last December. (read more on methodology here)
Read full poll results here.
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