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Que bola, Obama?

Que bola, Obama?

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on March 21, 2016

Que bola? That’s how we Cubans used to greet each other when we are in an informal environment. The phrase can be heard round the clock, in any region of the country and its use is not related to the cultural level of a person, it’s just our way to ask an acquaintance “what’s up?”

24 hours before the president of the United States Barack Obama began his historic visit to Havana, the White House published a video in which the head of state establishes a phone conversation with “Panfilo”, a character played by actor Luis Silva in the TV comedy show “Vivir del cuento”, the most popular show in Cuba. In that dialogue, Obama greets “Panfilo”, in Spanish language, with a perfect “que bola?” Right after Air Force One landed in Cuba, by means of his Twitter account, the president said hello to the people with an effusive “Que bola, Cuba?” 


The greatest profit of this historic fact is behind such a “Cuban-style” greeting, which cannot only be measured by the millions of dollars that could come out of the foreseeable approach between U.S companies and the Caribbean island, but the feeling that, after nearly six decades of serious conflicts, both governments have decided to stop living in the past, think about the future and debate their differences. This is big deal after so much violence.

Havana welcomed the 44th president of the United States with a downpour that gained intensity in the afternoon. The streets were deserted, not only because of the rain or the fact that it was Sunday, but due to the detours in urban transport routes, which made even harder to move through the city where the security level has been increased over the past days.

In the presidential airplane, Obama carried from the mother in law to the nuclear briefcase, and four packages of measures to be implemented in one year, which undermine the Blockade, a terrible economic instrument that could fall by itself, fortunately in the near future, although only the Congress can put an end to it.

Some hours before his departure from Washington, an agreement was signed to authorize Starwood to operate three hotels in Havana, so it’ll make history by becoming the first U.S. company in nearly 60 years to operate in Cuba. The presidential delegation is also made up of executives from Marriot who are also interested in a piece of the “pie” in the Cuban travel industry, now that American citizens, although are not still allowed to come as tourists, have been given travel facilities and the airlines have been green-lighted to organize regular flights.

The numerous delegation of black cars, with U.S. license plates, moved throughout deserted streets. They took the seafront and entered Old Havana, a special place at the Cuban capital, proclaimed World Heritage by UNESCO in 1982. The delegation was welcomed by Dr. Eusebio Leal, author of the million-worth plan to recover that area, a space tourists visit the most. They admired the Square of Arms and walked into the Palace of the General Captains, where Dr. Leal showed them a picture of Abraham Lincoln and they later went to the Cathedral of Havana, where they were expected by Cardinal Jaime Ortega. The Obama family put an end to the first day of the historic visit by having dinner at “San Cristobal”, one of the famous bistros, symbols of the process of economic opening in a country that, with huge distances in several aspects related to Washington, welcomes the president with an emphatic que bola, Obama?

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