Change and an uncertainty go hand in hand in Cuba and for one American business owner it’s just a way of life.
We visited Shona Baum at her restaurant called the California Cafe back in May.
ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska was in Havana, Cuba to cover the first American cruise ship to sail to the communist island nation in more than 50 years. After grabbing a quick lunch we learned that the restaurant we were eating at was run by an American.
Baum’s been open for two years, ever since the President Barack Obama helped ameliorate the relationship between the U.S. and Cuban governments. Baum expected there to be more change since May, but the only change in her eyes came on Friday when Cuban run television announced Fidel Castro was dead.
“I expected you would see people all wearing black or on the streets or crying ripping their clothes but it's really very mellow here,” Baum said. Baum said there are so many young Cubans that didn’t grow up during Castro’s rule so his death hasn’t directly impacted them. For her elderly neighbor, the news has been devastating.
“She worked in the Ministry of the Exterior for many years and she was just hysterically crying,” Baum said. “And for her, this was just the end of an era.”
Baum said many Cubans hoped change would come faster. Since we visited her in May she said not much has changed.
“There's nothing tangible that has changed, and I think the big change, is that it's starting to feel like there's not that much change,” Baum said. “And, it’s slowly putting a damper on people's feelings about things.”
President-elect Donald Trump posted this tweet following Castro’s death.
“If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal fort he Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal,” Trump tweeted.
Baum was not aware of that tweet until we told her what he said. At this point, she knows that people are oppressed, she sees it first hand. But, stopping the progresss made between tourists and the Cuban people would be disastrous.
“It is building bridges, people to people,” Baum said. “It would be disastrous for the Cuban people. So, I think anyone who cared at all about the Cuban people would be really working to find a diplomatic solution, and a business solution because that's where the two worlds can meet.”
Baum’s restaurant is located at Calle 19 entre N y O Vedado, Havana.