From India to Cuba, what the world hopes for from Obama

Pushkar in Rajasthan, India. Photo posted by Aricwithana

Whether it's the end of an embargo or fairer distribution of wealth, most of our Observers, from Havana to Tehran, are hoping for something from Barack Obama.

CUBA: "They've talked more about Obama's election than Raul Castro's"

Yoani Sanchez is a blogger from Cuba.

"The Cuban people are paying a huge amount of attention to this. They've talked more about Obama's election than Raul Castro's - there was of course more suspense - they're expecting real change. For example, that Cubans in the US will be able to travel to Cuba more often (at the moment, it's only every three years), and be able to send money more easily (Cuban expats in the States can only send money to their next of kin in Cuba - their mother or father for example). Personally, I'm dubious about what Obama will be able to do. Certainly, his victory has symbolic consequences. It will be more difficult for the Cuban powers to make trouble with a black president who's willing to open talks. But I'm scared that what the Cubans hope for is more than Obama can actually do."

WEST BANK: "He positioned himself against the transfer of Jerusalem to the Palestinians"

Ghassan Abdullah is a computer specialist from Ramallah.

"I think the majority of Palestinians prefer Obama to McCain. They identify with him because of his roots, the colour of his skin and his name. Personally I don't that the election will change much. I remember his speech in front of AIPAC [pro-Israeli lobby in the US] last May. He declared unfailing support for Israel. And he positioned himself against the transfer of Jerusalem to the Palestinians. Anyway, there'll always be lobbies, oil giants and other companies dictating what goes on in the region, not the president. A solution will come from the Israelis and Palestinians."

ISRAEL: "We need the next president of Israel to (...) be able to stand up to him"

Ariel Woolf is a teacher in a Talmudic school in Effrat, near Jerusalem.

"Obama's election was a shock to us. We didn't think that the US was ready for a man of a darker skin tone. Personally I feel that he says a lot but I don't know what he's actually going to do. He has some friends who are open enemies to the State of Israel and I feel uncertain as to how strongly he'll be able to stand up to the enemies of the West. We need the next president of Israel to (...) be able to stand up to him if he contradicts. The weight that the US presses down on Israel is quite a weight. And I will worry if the new government is going to start pushing Israel on giving up more and receiving less."



Posted on Flickr by Anthony J Zhang.

PAKISTAN: "People here dislike him"

Zaheer Kidvai is a university professor from Karachi.

Pakistan, along with Israel (despite disagreeing on everything else), was one of the only country's not to have a huge majority supporting Obama on the 'If the world could vote?' website. The reason people here dislike him is because he's been more openly critical about Pakistan being a root of the terrorism problem. But I don't think he will make much of a difference. One thing that he'll affect is that the war on terror will develop into something much more sensible; with more information, more support. He won't just keep bombing. So tensions will be alleviated."



Pushkar in Rajastan, India. Photo posted by Aricwithana

INDONESIA: "Thanks to his background, it will probably be easier to talk to him and negotiate"

Rully Dasaad went to school with Obama in Jakarta, where the future president lives between 1967 and 1971.

I was invited by the American Embassy to watch the elections with two other former classmates of Obama. The majority of the guests, who were Indonesian, were very happy. Obama's victory is good for Indonesia and the government knows it. Thanks to his background, it will probably be easier to talk to him and negotiate. We have a lot of resources, especially oil and gas and America needs us for that. But right now the problem is, American investors, and foreign companies in general, take our resources but we never see the money and most people here are still very poor. Hopefully, with Obama president, Indonesia will be able to establish new American contracts in terms of exploitation when it comes to oil and receive a better share of the profit because for the moment it is not fair. The American Embassy people told me they would try to organise a meeting with him and his old classmates. So, I hope I'll see him again soon!"


Obama's a big thing for Indonesian kids. Posted on Flickr by Anthony J Zhang.

RUSSIA: "A McCain win would have given the Kremlin an excuse to continue to blame the US for the world's problems"

Maria Antonova is a journalist and blogger from Moscow.
I think many people react to his race; they can't believe a black man could become president. People don't know much about him here but in general, he represents something different from the politics of Bush, which is good. There's also an opinion among the opposition that Obama is bad for the Kremlin, because a McCain win would have given the Kremlin an excuse to continue to blame the US for the world's problems instead of focusing on domestic problems.

Regarding Medvedev's reaction to Obama's election [it was followed by the announcement of missile base close to Poland, in response to an antimissile base there], I don't think it was particular to Obama, because he didn't have time. He was just being anti-American in general. I think it would be the same if McCain won, if not worse [the Kremlin also sent a particularly cold 'congratulations' message]." 




Posted on Flickr by "sinosplice".







A British Obama supporter after the party. Photos compiled and posted on Flickr by Anthony J Zhang.


Still I am afraid of war

I absolutely favoured Obama. I think he is a calm and friendly man. It is an absolute historic moment. I didn't expect him to win. But still I am afraid of war. I believe that Iran has the absolute right for nucleair power. In this sense, It doesn't really matter who is the president in the White House. I am afraid that if Iran produces nucleair missiles, America will start a war anyhow.

Hope for Burma

Burmese people expect Obama to be as serious as Mr Bush on Burma issue. Mr Bush met 12 Burmese activists on his official to Thailand. Mrs Laura Bush was more vocal and active on Burma issues. She never fail to mention about Burma whereever she has a chance. She visited refugees along Burmese on their visit.

Apart from the attention by first family, we also expect US policy to be more assertive and forceful. Due to difference in opinion of States department and Congress, many actions were delayed or inapt. Thus we dont have substantial outcome from US effort during Bush period. We want to see better approach and more funding from Obama administration.

Opposition situation is much weakened due to relentless suppression by SPDC. We need outside helps for our progress.

Personally I have hope with

Personally I have hope with the Obama election but I think that we have to see what happen really when Obama president: what will he do with the 2 wars, with Guantanamo and, regarding, Latinamerica, if he could develope a policy of investments in the poorest countries without the intromision in their internal poicys. I hope that the barriers against Cuba finally could be broken. The president of my country, Cristina Fernandez, celebrated with the courage of a fan the victory of Obama. She seems a groupie of a rock band, not a president taking equal to equal to another one. Ashaming.

Glad to be rid of Bush

Everyone wanted Obama to win in Japan, but they weren't leaping around the room when it happened. Everything's just carried on as normal. Bush was not popular at all here (not that he was popular anywhere). Obama's a novelty. It's strange because the Japanese are quite discriminatory with black people here, but they seem to accept him. I think they respect him because all the politicians here: their fathers were high ranking ministers, and Obama is not like that, he's worked his way up from the bottom, not like Bush.

We need France to have an Obama

With the candidates' speeches and the results I ended up staying up the whole night. I had the feeling the whole world was watching. We saw an important stage concerning civic liberties. Race inequality was abolished.

I don't know if it will help the development of our region. With Bush's unmet promises, we've learnt that we can only really count on ourselves. But Tunisia's under European control. France continues to support the dictator Ben Ali and ignore the hopes of freedom of the Tunisian people. They carry on with a politics from colonial times. We need France to have an Obama rather than America.

Fantastic, for some

The news has brought a sense of fantastic optimism to India. But it's just a sentiment. While one sure thing is that more and more Indians travelling in America will feel much more welcome, those people only make up a small and elite percentage of Indians. India is a huge place and not everyone is connected to the rest of the world. While Indian journalists and businessmen talk of the task 'the first urgency of now' for Obama; for the poor majority here, their 'first urgency' is simply survival.

Obama, China and Taiwan

The way which Obama's election might affect us is to do with Taiwan. Obama's a clever man: he won't ask China to be aggressive with Taiwan, and neither will he let Taiwan become independent. He knows that nobody would profit from a war with the country. In general we didn't celebrate: people feel it's not their business. In fact, I think there would have been a bigger reaction that if he hadn't been elected, because people were happy to see a black man succeed.