A Cuban immigrant and U.S. citizen reacts to ending embargo - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

A Cuban immigrant and U.S. citizen reacts to ending embargo

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
CLINTON, MS (WLBT) - President Barack Obama's efforts to lift the embargo against Cuba is being met with anger and excitement from natives to the island. Political figures in the country are also voicing opposition.

Manuel Fuentes immigrated from Havana, Cuba, with his family in 1958, the year before Fidel Castro took over power. The retired MS National Guard Colonel became a U.S. Citizen at age 18, graduated from the ROTC program at the University of Miami and entered the Army. He retired after serving 30 years.

The Clinton resident recalls celebrations when Castro went into Havana and his father's thoughts of returning, but his mother refused to go back to an oppressive Communist nation.

"Cuba's free. We can go back, and she got really serious," said Fuentes. "And she looked over at him and said no. I'm sorry. You're going back. We're staying in this country. We're not going back to cuba. I don't want my children to be with the milicianos, holding guns and going through all that kind of stuff." 

Fuentes was surprised by the president announcement.

"This has happened before," said Fuentes. "I just wish he would have gotten a few more concessions from the Castro brothers especially Raul Castro in the sense that there's still a lot of political prisoners." 

"I got invited by a group called Pastors for Peace," said Representative Bennie Thompson.

The Congressman has visited Cuba five times since 2000, taking corn and rice farmers who were interested in trade on previous trips.

He says the Cubans are receptive and both countries could share research, educational and business opportunities after five decades.

"We don't have to agree with everything the Russians do, but we have relationships with them," said Thompson. "So there are other countries that we don't like their form of government, but as Americans we can still do business with them." 

Fuentes remains cautiously optimistic for what he says could bring much needed help to Cuba, although he believes neighborhood committees will still control daily life.

Thompson expects a rigorous debate on the issue when Congress resumes in January.

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