Obama poster hailed as milestone in Cuba

A tourist in Havana posing with a poster carrying the images of Cuban President Raul Castro and his American counterpart Barack Obama on Saturday. Mr Obama arrived in Cuba yesterday.
A tourist in Havana posing with a poster carrying the images of Cuban President Raul Castro and his American counterpart Barack Obama on Saturday. Mr Obama arrived in Cuba yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

HAVANA • A poster of US President Barack Obama has popped up in central Havana in a revolutionary change to the portraits of Che Guevara and other communist leaders plastered around the island nation.

Cubans are used to living under the gaze of billboards, paintings and other depictions of former president Fidel Castro and his comrades-in-arms Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, as well as 19th-century independence leader Jose Marti.

But three days before Mr Obama arrived in Havana for the first visit of a serving US president in nine decades, a restaurant entrepreneur broke the bearded revolutionaries' monopoly. The poster, put up in the street near a cathedral that Mr Obama is expected to visit, is a montage showing the US leader alongside Cuban president Raul Castro, brother of Fidel.

"Welcome to Cuba," the poster says under the Stars and Stripes and the Cuban flag.

Mr Miguel Angel Morales, owner of La Moneda Cubana restaurant, said putting up the poster was a big step in a country where the United States has long been the enemy and where political imagery is tightly controlled.

He said he hoped the authorities would not tell him to remove the picture. "We'll see what happens," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2016, with the headline 'Obama poster hailed as milestone in Cuba'. Print Edition | Subscribe