News of Fidel Castro’s death sent Cuban exiles old and young into the streets of Little Havana early this morning. Both generations recall Castro with a sense of betrayal - and his demise with a sense of hope.
80-year-old Ana Celia watched fellow Cuban exiles dance a conga line in front of the Versailles restaurant in Little Havana - some of them holding signs that read, "Go to Hell Fidel."
She was 22 when she watched Fidel Castro and his Cuban Revolution march into Havana shortly after New Year’s Day 1959. Ana Celia didn’t want to give her last name because she still has family in Cuba. But she says it wasn’t long before Castro’s communist regime made her feel, as she says, “defrauded.”
“We were so happy because Fidel got rid of a dictatorship for us,” she said. “Then he brought his own dictatorship with him.”
Younger Cuban exiles like 35-year-old Lester Perez were at Versailles too. Perez left Cuba 16 years ago because its ragged economy gave him no future as an architect – and its regime gave him no future of free expression.
“Fidel stole the illusions for so many generations," Perez said. "And maybe things are not going to change tomorrow. But now we feel like change is coming sooner.”
Cuba, meanwhile, has announced nine days of mourning for Castro.