As a psychology major, I did not know what to expect before taking my US-Cuban Relations class through the University of Havana. I have never taken a political science or history course while being a college student, so I had no preconceived notion of what the class would cover. I think that having no expectations was for the best because I ended up enjoying the class. I learned about Cuban history and their many revolutions, as well as their very complex relationship with the United States.
While the situation between the two governments has been very tense, the people who reside in either country still have a great love and appreciation for the other, as I have experienced in Cuba. There also was progress with relations with former President Obama visiting Cuba in 2016 and acknowledging their sovereignty. The same sentiment cannot be expressed regarding the current United States presidential administration. Most recently, travel restrictions have been placed on people-to-people travel for those in the States attempting to go to Cuba. This was done to pressure the Republic into condemning the regime of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela. While study abroad programs are not impacted by the new policy, it creates the image that the island is an unsafe country to visit. Especially with the potential for a second Special Period* in Cuba, the limit on touristic activities on the island greatly impacts Cubans and their everyday life since tourism is the most popular job sector. The current United States President also is strengthening the embargo placed against Cuba to make matters more difficult. The lack of international support to Cuba within the past year has a noticeable impact, even for me as a tourist. I am lucky enough to be staying in a fantastic residence where there is always food, water and includes modern appliances. Recently, there has been food or some beverages, even paper. Before coming to Cuba and learning about the policies, I did not really understand the weight that they would have on everyday life. It feels unfair to see policies negatively impact those unrelated to the governmental issues, to deal with the aftermath of decades of strife due to differences in political ideas.
Even though I cannot do anything to change the minds of the current administration and repeal the embargo or travel restrictions, I know to see the importance of paying attention to foreign policies in order to understand the world, me and determine how to help others.