Miami - In the first poll of Cubans in their country since the United States and Cuba moved toward closer ties, US President Barack Obama was more popular than the Castro brothers, a survey out on Wednesday found.
The poll by Bendixen & Amandi International for Univision and The Washington Post was the first following December's surprise announcement by the two long-time enemies that they would drop their post-Cold War bad blood and seek normal ties.
It was conducted without the consent of the Cuban government; 1 200 Cubans across the island were interviewed in person between 17-27 March, said the pollsters who believe it marks the biggest comparable independent survey in Cuba in five decades.
The Miami-based pollsters found that 80% of Cubans interviewed said they had a "very positive" or "somewhat positive" opinion of Obama, while 17% had a "very negative" or "somewhat negative" view.
At the same time, there was widespread disapproval of Cuban President Raul Castro (48% negative, 47% positive) and his retired brother, revolution icon Fidel Castro (50% negative, 44% positive).
Ninety-seven percent said they supported their countries' efforts to re-establish full diplomatic ties.
And 96% said they believed the United States should end its economic embargo on Cuba, the Americas' only Communist-run country.
Obama and Cuba's Raul Castro, 83, are expected to have a historic face-to-face encounter at the Summit of the Americas in Panama this week.
The image of US and Cuban presidents sitting across from each other at the 35-nation summit for the first time after decades of Cold War-era animosity will be the highlight of the gathering in Panama on Friday and Saturday.