Local expert on Cuba speaks on policy changes

A local expert on Cuba shared his thoughts Monday on recent policy changes between Cuba and the United States.

Advertising Executive, Larry Sides, has traveled to the country 24 times in 14 years and said the policy changes made my President Obama are a step in the right direction.

“I don’t think it’s as big a step as needs to be made, but I think that it’s a good start,” said Sides.

Sides has studied Cuba for over a decade.

He’s been able to travel back and forth for years through humanitarian efforts, an ability that many Americans do not have.

A trade embargo on Cuba has been in place for over 50 years.

“The major steps would be to end the embargo, to allow Americans to travel to Cuba anytime on a U.S. Air Carrier and to end the base in Guantanamo,” said Sides.

His fascination with Cuba began in the year 2000.

Sides described the country as lost in time.

“When you walk down the streets it’s very much like a Norman Rockwell painting. Everything is stuck in 1959. The cars not hundreds, not thousands, but tens of thousands of cars in Cuba are all U.S. cars from the 1940s and the 1950s,” said Sides.

One of the biggest announcements made by President Obama is an effort to increase  internet access between the United States and Cuba.

Sides said this is a big step forward for the country.

“As a traveler to Cuba I can only go to hotels or internet centers in order to use the internet access to send messages back and forth to the United States. For Cubans it’s much more difficult,” said Sides.

Sides said Cubans have a tremendous desire for U.S. Products.

“I think it will be a real boom for Louisiana rice and Georgia chicken parts. I mean all kinds of things,” said Sides.

He said the question now is will the embargo be lifted and if so, can Cuba afford the products.

Sides said action and time will tell.

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