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.
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