Alex Romero was delighted when President Barack Obama came to Havana in March bearing the promise of a bright new future. Like so many other Cubans, the 42-year-old state photography shop employee thrilled at the president’s vision of restored ties between the U.S. and Cuba.
Families would reunite. A flood of American business would lift the stagnant centrally planned economy, fueling its slow path toward reform. Even as Obama spoke, an 80 percent surge in U.S. visitors was drenching state-run and private businesses with hundreds of millions of desperately needed dollars. Nine months later, the world seen from Havana looks very different. President Raul Castro faces what could be his toughest task.—Agencies