POLITICS

During U.S. flag raising in Havana, Cubans in Miami express mixed feelings

Protesters against the opening of the U.S. embassy on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in Miami.

Protesters against the opening of the U.S. embassy on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in Miami.

As Secretary of State John Kerry spoke outside the U.S. embassy in Havana where the Stars and Stripes is once again flying for the first time in decades, several South Florida residents made their way to Cafe Versailles to share their thoughts, positive and negative, on the historic event.

Mixed emotions filled the Friday morning air as history was being made in Cuba. On the corner of Southwest Eighth Street and Southwest 36th Avenue, protesters and supporters gathered, some calling the day historic, while others tangled with feelings of disgust and called it a day of infamy.

Gustavo Rearte said he is ready for new changes and hopeful for a bright future for Cuba. "Honestly, personally, I think it's an exciting time," he said. "I think that, you know, my family hasn't been to Cuba in over 50 years, and it's a new day. I think it's a new opportunity. I think that with the right leadership, with the right conversations, you can start to see change."

Anna Maria Cobo agreed with Rearte but was cautiously optimistic about future changes but was quick to remember those who suffered during the last few decades. "I agree with him [Rearte], but don't forget all the people that have died in there," she said. "That I will not forget."

Cuban-American lawmaker Ileana Ros-Lehtinen shared her thoughts. "Today, the Obama administration extended its hand to the Castro regime and last month it was to the supreme leader in Iran," she said. "And have either of these regimes shown any sign of unclenching their fists? Of course not."

Presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush also shared their disgust with the historic event. "In Cuba, we face a proudly anti-American leadership who continues to work with nations, like Russia and China, to spy on our people and our government," said Rubio, "who harbor fugitives from American justice and who stand in opposition to nearly every value our nation holds dear by violating the basic human rights of their own people by preventing democratic elections and by depriving their nation's economy of freedom of opportunity."

"Today we're having Secretary Kerry do a victory dance inside ... in Havana, Cuba," said Bush. "It's heartbreaking to see the lack of commitment to true leadership, and we're gonna pay a price."

Back in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, protesters were also seen ripping and shredding a piece of cardboard with an image of a flag representing the Castro government. "The Castro regime never change. They don't wanna change. They want to put the United States in the floor," said one protester.

The scene occurred on the streets, leading to a scuffle with one man who stopped his vehicle to argue with the protesters. Miami police responded to the scene to help ease tensions. A man who was the most vocal supporter to the reopening of the U.S. embassy was taken into custody. A second person was also taken into custody

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