July 5, 2020

Cuban refugees saddened by opening of American embassy in Havana

Havana Embassy

Secretary of State John Kerry, and other dignitaries watch as U.S. Marines raise the U.S. flag over the newly reopened embassy in Havana, Cuba. Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. Kerry traveled to the Cuban capital to raise the U.S. flag and formally reopen the long-closed U.S. Embassy. Cuba and U.S. officially restored diplomatic relations July 20, as part of efforts to normalize ties between the former Cold War foes. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)

Friday marks a historic day in the nation’s history, but for many local Cubans, the emotions stirred up by the re-opening of the U.S. embassy were more bitter than sweet.

Action News Jax reporter Lorena Inclan spoke to a group of six people made up of business leaders, research professionals, some fathers and even grandmothers.

All of them are Cuban born, and all of them had no choice but to flee their country.

“It’s very difficult for me to still speak about it, even after this many years,” said Alicia Salvador Burst, a Cuban refugee.

Which is why as they watched the re-opening of the US embassy in Havana, disappointment set in.

Burst’s parents put her and her four siblings on a flight to America in 1962. She was only seven.

They were known as the “Peter Pan flights”.

Fourteen thousand children came alone. Many of them ended up near Jacksonville, eventually put with foster parents.

“Five of us children were put on an airplane by a family that worked very, very hard all their lives for everything that they had and to just have the government take everything away from us,” Burst said.

While this moment will go down in history, for this group, it only means more of the same.

“We need to ask and demand that we have change for the better,” Burst said. “I’ll be happy when the Cubans are free, but I don’t see it with the current political situation.”

Cuban refugee Rolando Perez has this message for those wanting to go to the land he left in 1960 and has never been back.

“Don’t go. Don’t go, because you are helping a communist country, and it’s a shame,” Perez said.




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