Local Cuban community reacts to death of Fidel Castro

(WTNH/ Renee Chmiel)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Cuba has already started 9 days of mourning in the wake of Castro’s death. But here in the U.S. some communities are celebrating. The local Cuban American community is speaking out after Fidel Castro’s death.

Jesus Puerto, the owner of Soul de Cuba Café in New Haven, says he was shocked when he found out Castro had died.

The restaurant is full of expressions of Cuban culture and pictures of Puerto’s family. Many still live in Cuba, in a small community near Havana. Some moved to Florida to work in cigar factories. When Castro was in power things were not easy for them.

Related: Cuba to observe 9 days of mourning for Fidel Castro

“My friends and family in Miami – our hearts go out to them as well as to the people of Cuba because they suffered a lot because of the regime,” said Puerto.

Puerto says many people blame Castro for the dysfunctional relationship between Cuba and the United States. However, Puerto says people in Cuba are in mourning, since Castro was something of a father figure to many of them. Though many are sad, some are feeling mixed emotions.

“One cousin said to me yesterday, Jesus, I feel liberated. I feel a sense of relief,” said Puerto.

There is still uncertainty despite the relief that some people may feel. Puerto hopes relations between Cuba and the United States will continue to improve, but he’s not sure what will happen when the Trump administration takes over. He says people in both countries are interested in connecting, and he hopes everyone can move forward.

Related: Fidel Castro, who defied US for 50 years, dies at 90 in Cuba

“Forgiveness is so important for us to be able to get on and sustain our communities, our families, our lives,” said Puerto.

Puerto still visits Cuba regularly. He’ll be going back in a few weeks.

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