The surprise announcement by the President of the United States Barack Obama to resume diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than 50 years of estrangement has been welcomed by many Cubans on the island and others in the international community. Nonetheless, the hard-line sector of the Cuban exile community in Miami has demonstrated an almost generalized anger.
What happened on the afternoon of December 17 has made history. In a televised address, President Barack Obama announced a series of changes in bilateral relations, including the creation of embassies in both nations, the review of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, possible visits by both heads of state, and Cuba's participation in the next Summit of the Americas in 2015, which will be held in Panama City.
The impact of Obama's speech has been such that it has generated a strong opposition among the most conservative sector of exiles in Florida, home to more than 1 million residents of Cuban descent. Senator Marco Rubio (Republican for Florida) called the President “the single worst negotiator we have had in the White House” in his lifetime, while House Republicans from Florida Ilean Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Díaz Balart called the president “naive.“
Meanwhile, the Versailles restaurant, a meeting point for many hard-line Cuban exiles in Miami, was the barometer for measuring what many called a “day of infamy.” On of these voices is Miguel Saavedra, leader of the Vigilia Mambisa, a group described on their Facebook page as “a hard-line, right wing, Anti-Castro, Anti-Communist group”. In a brief chat with Global Voices, Saavedra expressed his distaste for the measures :
Although younger generations of Cuban Americans tend to be a bit more moderate, Gabriel, a young man born in exile, was pessimistic about the measure :
Despite being a strong coming together of both nations after over five decades, the true impact that the Obama administration's new measures will have on Cuba and the United States remains to be seen.