Sunday, December 21, 2014

Some in Little Havana Crying 'Backstabbed'

Cuban Americans reacted with mixed emotions to President Obama's announcement today that the U.S. was normalizing relations with Cuba after severing ties more than 50 years ago.
In the Little Havana neighborhood -- the unofficial political heart of this city, where more than half the population, 54%, is of Cuban descent -- hardliners protested with signs decrying Obama's move and chanting, "Traitor, traitor."
Carlos Munoz, a retired veterinarian who left Cuba in 1970, was among a group outside the well-known Cuban restaurant Versailles that was heated in opposition and disappointed by the historic move. Munoz said he felt betrayed by Obama's actions.
"We've been in the fight for Cuban independence for over 50 years, and we just got back-stabbed," said Munoz, 78.
Some Cuban Americans took solace in knowing that Alan Gross, an American arrested in Cuba in 2009 on espionage charges and released Wednesday on humanitarian grounds as part of the negotiations between the two countries, would soon be reunited with his family. Part of the agreement calls for the U.S. to release three Cubans imprisoned for spying.
"I'm happy they released that poor man who was going to die in that prison," said Miguel Saavedra, a mechanic who fled Cuba in 1965. "But this wasn't the way to do it."
Osvaldo Hernandez, a 50-year-old orthopedic technician who left Cuba on a raft with 13 others in 1995, wondered why the president didn't use the military to recover Gross.
"Why didn't they send in the SEALS, like they've done in so many other countries?" he asked.
Saavedra and Hernandez are members of a group called Vigilia Mambisa, a collection of exiled Cubans who want to maintain the economic embargo against the Communist island and advocate stronger sanctions to remove the Castro regime.
On Wednesday, they said Obama basically handed Cuban President Raul Castro everything he ever wanted in exchange for no institutional changes in Cuba.
"Obama is on his knees in front of a terrorist regime," he said. "It's sad."
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