WNPR

Cuban Cafe Owner in New Haven Optimistic About Warming Cuba-U.S. Ties

Dec 21, 2015

American Airlines and Jet Blue have announced plans to offer scheduled flights to Cuba. This follows last week’s new agreement on commercial flights between the island nation and the United States. 

Jesus Puerto owns Soul de Cuba Café in New Haven. Puerto applauds President’s Obama’s decision a year ago to re-open diplomatic relations.

"His administration has followed through," Puerto said. "The Cuban government seems to be open and I think really positive things are coming from it. I support his bravery and his decision to go beyond the former policy which, for 55 years, just wasn’t working."

Fodor’s Travel has just released a Cuba travel guide. Editor Eric Wechter said it could take three to six months before you can start booking individual airline flights to the island through internet services like Kayak.

“This three-to-six-month period has to do with setting in motion the safety inspections and other procedures required by the FAA to really clear the pathway," Wechter said. And he said it's important to remember that U.S. citizens may still only travel to Cuba under one of twelve permitted categories.

Despite the official normalizing of relations, restaurateur Puerto warns change takes time.

“I hear from friends here in the U.S. that they’d love to travel to Cuba ‘before things change’. Well, Cubans are resilient people and their culture is important for them and they’re very aware of maintaining their culture," Puerto said. "And there’s a lot of work to be done in terms of the infrastructure in Cuba before the change I think people are expecting." 

In the meanwhile, Puerto said he and family members who live on the island are excited about warming relations between the two nations.