'Cuba Libre': Young Cubans in Miami rejoice in Castro's death
Maryann Batlle , email@example.com; 239-263-4790 9:11 p.m.
EST November 26, 2016
Carole Sague never has spent a day of her 17 years in Cuba. But Saturday
afternoon, she was part of the growing crowd of people in Little Havana
in South Florida celebrating the death of the island country's former
leader Fidel Castro.
Sague, who was born in the United States to Cuban-American parents, said
she understands what drives Castro's exiles to rejoice. Castro promised
Cubans reform and divided families and killed dissidents instead, she said.
"He rose to power on lies," Sague said.
Young Cubans like Sague turned out by the thousands to witness a
milestone their parents or grandparents had waited decades to witness.
Whether they left Cuba as children or spent their whole lives in the
outside world, Cubans born long after Castro's regime first took power
said they are just as passionate for change as their elders.
Rafael Cruz, 34, of Golden Gate Estates, said he drove across the state
from Southwest Florida to Little Havana because he wanted to share his
joy with other exiles. His family fled Cuba to escape economic and
political oppression when he was a teen, he said.
"This is as good as it gets away from home," Cruz said of Little Havana.
"I've been waiting for this for a long time."
Cuba's current President Raul Castro confirmed in an announcement on
state television that his older brother, Fidel, died at 10:29 p.m. Friday.
The news was almost unbelievable, said Oscar Miro, a 22-year-old who
came to the United States 10 years ago. He only has known a world with
Castro in it.
In January 1959, Castro seized power when he pushed out dictator
Fulgencio Batista and rode into Havana as a victor.
Miro, who wore a Cuban flag like a cape, was caught off guard by the
Cuban government's public admission that Castro, the icon of a Communist
revolution that disrupted countless lives, was dead.
"We always thought they were gonna hide it to prevent an event like
this," Miro said, referring to the outpouring of emotion.
Hanoi Rodriguez, 21, Miro's friend since middle school, said Castro's
death is a necessary step toward a Cuba that can be free.
"Cuba should be like this country," Rodriguez said.
Stephania Valentin, 32, said she made her way to Little Havana because
it felt right.
Valentin is of Haitian and Cuban descent. Her Cuban grandmother, who
passed away, was pro-Castro, Valentin said, but the gathering was about
more than politics for her.
"I wanted to be part of the energy — the happiness," Valentin said.
Reaction coming from Cuba has been more muted than the jubilant
celebrations held in Miami. Cuba's government has declared nine days of
mourning. Castro's ashes will be transported from Havana to Santiago, a
city on the other side of the island.
Sague said Raul Castro's rule in Cuba is vulnerable because of his
Cubans on the island can start to envision a country without the Castro
family's leadership, she said.
"They can see the power is weakening, and they can start to fight for
what they deserve," Sague said.
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