Published On: Sat, Nov 26th, 2016

Cuban Americans celebrate death of Fidel Castro in the streets of Miami

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Miami’s Little Havana celebrates death of Fidel Castro in the streets.

Within half an hour of the Cuban government’s official announcement that former President Fidel Castro had died, Miami’s Little Havana teemed with life – and cheers.

Thousands of people banged pots with spoons, waved Cuban flags in the air and whooped in jubilation on Calle Ocho – 8th Street, and the heart of the neighbourhood – in the early hours of Saturday. Honking and strains of salsa music from car stereos echoed against stucco buildings and fireworks lit up the humid night sky.

 Members of the Cuban community and residents of Miami celebrate the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro 

Cubans in Little Havana, Miami, hold up banners showing their hatred towards the former president CREDIT: CRISTOBAL HERRERA/EPA

Members of the Cuban community and residents of Miami celebrate the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro 

Flags are waved in jubilation at the news of Castro’s death CREDIT:  CRISTOBAL HERRERA/EPA

Police blocked off streets leading to Cafe Versailles, the quintessential Cuban American hotspot where strong cafecitos – sweetened espresso – were as common as a harsh word about Fidel Castro.

“Cuba si! Castro no!” they chanted, while others screamed “Cuba libre!”

Celebration, not grief, permeated the atmosphere. That was no surprise. Castro has cast a shadow over Miami for decades and, in many ways, his policy and his power have shaped the city and its inhabitants.

Cubans fled the island to Miami, Tampa, New Jersey and elsewhere after Castro took power in 1959. Some were loyalists of Fulgencio Batista, the president prior to Castro, while others left with the hope that they would be able to return soon, after Castro was toppled. He never was.

Cuban Americans celebrate upon hearing about the death of longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami

The shadow cast by the former president over the Cuban population in Miami has liftedCREDIT: RHONA WISE/AFP

Many others believed they would not be truly free under Castro and his communist regime. Thousands left behind their possessions, loved ones and hard-earned educations and businesses, travelling to the US by plane, boat or raft. Many Cubans died on the ocean trip to South Florida.

And many never returned to see their childhood homes, their neighbourhoods and their relatives because Castro was still in power.

The ones who made it to Miami took a largely, and vehemently, anti-Castro stance.

On New Year’s Eve every year, Cubans in Miami utter a toast in Spanish as they raise glasses of liquor: “Next year in Cuba.” But as the Cuban exiles aged, and as Castro outlived them, US President Barack Obama eroded the embargo and younger Cubans returned to the island, the toast rang silent in many households.

Source: Telegraph UK

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