Cuban-Americans support ending embargo against Cuba

A tourist buggy is drawn by a horse in Havana, Cuba
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A tourist buggy is drawn by a horse in Havana, Cuba

The portion of Cuban-Americans who support the Obama administration's decision to normalize relations with Cuba now stands at 51 percent, with 40 percent opposed, according to research to be released Wednesday.

The slight majority who now back normal relations between the countries marks a shift since December, when only 44 percent of Cuban-Americans supported the president's initial Cuba announcement.

"In the three months since President Obama's historic announcement, rather than increasing opposition, the study reveals there is now slight majority support (among) Cuban-Americans for normalization of relations with Cuba," said Fernand Amandi, principal of Bendixen & Amandi International, a research firm that specializes in the Hispanic market and which carried out the poll.

The findings will be presented at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania's Cuba Opportunity Summit on Wednesday. CNBC is the summit's exclusive broadcaster.

Young people, in particular, are supportive of the move, with 69 percent between the ages of 18 and 29 in favor. Only 38 percent of respondents over the age of 65 support normalization.

And perhaps explaining why many Florida legislators remain stridently opposed to the president's actions, among Cuban-Americans living in Florida, only 41 percent of those surveyed support normalized relations. Cuban-Americans living outside of Florida, in contrast, are overwhelmingly supportive at 69 percent.

The United States has a total Cuban-American population of about 2 million people.

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A majority of Cuban-Americans, 56 percent, now favor easing travel restrictions, up from 47 percent in December, with similar patterns appearing across age groups and state of residence.

Less than half of respondents—47 percent—said they favor a full-scale lifting of the embargo, which the United States imposed 53 years ago. Seventeen percent said they don't know whether they support a lifting of the embargo, and 36 percent said they still support keeping it in place.

More than half of Cuban-Americans said they believe Cubans living in Cuba should be able to sell their products in the United States, and vice versa for Americans and American companies wanting to sell their products to Cuba.

When it comes to American businesses, survey respondents were asked: "Currently U.S. companies like Coca-Cola, Nike and Apple sell their products in communist countries like China and Vietnam. Do you think U.S. companies should be able to sell their products in Cuba?" More than 60 percent answered that question yes, while only 31 percent said no.

When it comes to open travel on cruise ships, respondents were still positive overall, but less so: 52 percent support allowing cruise lines to take passengers between the United States and Cuba, while 38 percent oppose it.