President Barack Obama is more popular among Cubans than either of the Castro brothers who have ruled the island for the past five and a half decades, according to a new poll secretly conducted there last month.
Eighty percent of the Cubans polled said they had a “very positive” or “somewhat positive” opinion of Obama, while just 17 percent registered a “very negative” or “somewhat negative” impression.
The widespread approval of the U.S. president was in sharp contrast to the mostly adverse opinions of Cuban leader Raul Castro (48 percent negative, 47 percent postive) and his retired older brother Fidel (50 percent negative, 44 percent positive).
Obama’s popularity — exceeded by only that of Pope Francis — was perhaps the most startling finding of the poll, which was conducted by the Miami company Bendixen & Amandi International for the TV networks Univision and Fusion and the Washington Post.
The survey is the first nationwide opinion poll conducted in Cuba by a private firm since the country turned communist. Without the Cuban government’s knowledge or permission, the pollsters conducted face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults throughout the island between March 6 and 16. The poll has a plus-or-minus 2.8 percent margin of error.