WASHINGTON — Any good will Raul Castro enjoyed as Cuba’s new leader has dissipated, according to a new poll, which found that more than four out of five of those surveyed in Cuba were unhappy with the direction of the country.
The survey, conducted by the International Republican Institute, also found one in five Cubans cited food scarcity as their biggest worry and 82 percent said life in Cuba was going “so-so,” “badly” or “very badly.” That was up slightly from 80 percent in November 2008.
“Cubans are as frustrated and pessimistic as they’ve ever been,” said the institute’s Alex Sutton.
The nonpartisan institute, which receives funding from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, along with the National Endowment for Democracy and other private donations, has been surveying Cubans on the island since 2007 to support its work promoting democracy.
The poll had to be conducted surreptitiously on the island. It was done by a Latin American polling firm the institute won’t name.
There was divided opinion on how to improve Cuba’s economy. Twenty percent suggested changing the political system, 15 percent cited ending the practice of double currency — Cubans get paid in local Cuban pesos but must buy goods and services with a different currency — and 10 percent cited changing the economic system.
No questions involved U.S. policy, though 8 percent volunteered that ending the U.S. embargo would help improve Cuba’s economy.