A crowd of Cuban entrepreneurs, U.S. business people and prominent Cuban-Americans has applauded President Barack Obama’s call to help private businesses in Cuba by lifting the trade embargo on the island “once and for all.”
Obama is praising Cuba’s opening its economy to private enterprise, a change that began in earnest after President Raul Castro took power in 2008. Roughly a half-million Cubans today are small business owners or their employees.
Speaking at a discussion on entrepreneurship, Obama credited the Cuban government with adopting “some reforms” and added that the U.S. “has been proud to help.”
He called on Cuba to help small business owners by creating wholesale markets to supply them, unify a complicated dual-currency system and refurbish infrastructure to allow goods to get to market faster.
He said: “I’m absolutely convinced that if given a chance more Cubans can succeed right here at home.”