Cuba-US: mixed reactions from Miami

By: Dayana Rosquete

The restoration of diplomatic relations between Havana and Washington generated dissimilar reactions in the Cuban community in Miami. The historic Café Versailles, symbol of a sector of emigration in South Florida, has seen mixed emotions after the presidents of both countries confirmed the start of a historical approach.

For no Cuban the measures announced by the presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro went unnoticed. Ruben Hernandez, 52, who lives in Miami, told OnCuba that “if it was momentous that they returned the three Cuban spies and Allan Gross to their countries, not even Mandraque the magician would expect normalization of relations, something unheard of and hopefully Miami extremists cannot stop it, since what announced by Obama is very good, at least on a personal level I hope family visits can become regular”

Others, from a contrary position, feel betrayed by the US president. To Felipe Guerra, 25, they yell traitor for defending the decision of Barack Obama. “It was a policy that has proved ineffective because Cubans continue to go to the marches of May and celebrate every January the triumph of the Revolution,” Guerra said.

Alberto Gonzalez is 70 years old and came to the United States by raft. He tells he left Cuba because he could not live with a government that sent him to a hard labor camp by the mere fact of being gay. “That of doing business with a totalitarian government like Cuba and thinking they will be successful is naive. Perhaps thought by good people, but they do not know the story behind this government, “he said.

Meanwhile, Ismael Senen, CEO of Island Travel, believes that what happened this December 17 is fantastic. It is a historical fact that he never thought of leaving. “Obama has been brave, went far and I admire him for that,” he said.

In the economic sphere the measures set out new opportunities. The island has skilled labor; many industries are hungry for investment and there are legal mechanisms for a renewal of trade ties between the two countries. “No doubt that these measures will have a positive impact: travel and the number of people interested in traveling to Cuba will increase, and that’s helpful for us,” said Senen and predicted most notable changes to the extent that large carriers can be integrated into this business.

Abel Hernandez has been for fourteen years in Miami and now has its own place in the city of Tampa where he sells Cuban food. Hernández expresses nostalgia for Cuba haltingly and underlines how much he wants the final normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States.

Gabriela and Alejandro are 16 years old and were born in America. In their perfect Spanish they confirm that they would very much like to travel to Cuba on vacation and take their Cuban cousin Adrian, who lives in the Havana neighborhood of Luyanó to Disney World.

A survey conducted by Florida International University (FIU) this year in Miami Dade County showed that 68 percent of residents in that state have agreed to restore relations between Cuba and the United States, a figure that was increased to 88 percent in those under 30 years of age.

But other voices, like Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ross Lehtinem, accused President Obama of violating the provisions of the Helms Burton Act, and according to Senator Marco Rubio, by swapping the three Cuban agents; the US government only has shown the world the weakness of the current administration. Rubio described US President as the worst negotiator   the White House has had in history, and warned that there will be days of intense debate in Congress over funding for the US embassy in Cuba.

Moreover, several Republican congressmen have shown their support for the measures, such as Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, as well as other senior officials from the White House and influential personalities in the world of politics.

Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, had recently expressed in various scenarios willingness to normalize relations between the two governments. Following the announcement on Wednesday, former Senator Jimm Webb said through his Twitter profile that Obama had taken the right decision.

Congressman Joe Garcia declined to comment on the issue, but when asked what he thought of the acknowledged by many as the story of the century, he said to be very pleased with that name.

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