Cuban-Americans hope for change in Cuba after Fidel Castro's death

Cuban-Americans talk about dictator's death

Reaction to the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro is pouring in from all around the world.

The island nation is in a nine-day mourning period for the 90-year-old who passed away Friday night.

For those who have endured Castro's dictatorship, this is a very emotional time. But it's also a time to look to the future. Many Cuban-Americans are celebrating.

Some even held parties after hearing about Castro's death.

"Celebrating not the death of a person, but the life after that person has passed," said Eduardo Norell, a Cuban-American who lives in Portland.

Norell said Castro's regime was oppressive.

"They will throw you in jail and they can accuse you of anything," Norell said.

Lilen Quevedo agrees. She said she went to seven countries, and traveled through jungles as well as rivers to get to the U.S. to be free.

"I'm celebrating today because I'm happy to be here and I'm happy to be freedom in this country," said Quevedo.

For more than four decades, Castro ruled as an anti-American dictator. He sided with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, built a communist state 90 miles from U.S. shores, and alongside the Soviets he headed up the biggest nuclear crisis the world has seen.

Roger Rivero is also a Cuban-American. He said he worked in TV and radio in Cuba, but was exiled about 20 years ago because he criticized a person who was a symbol of the revolution. He said Castro's death is the death of a symbol.

"[A] symbol that exemplified all the dark things that happening in the country for 50-60 years are over now," said Rivero.

Rivero's father passed away about a year ago, but always said he wanted to live one more day than Castro. It didn't happen. But Rivero said if his father were alive today, he'd be celebrating.

"He'd probably be drunk," laughed Rivero.

"He would be really happy," he continued.

That's the story for many Cuban-Americans who are hoping for change.

"The time is coming and the freedom for Cuba is coming too," said Norell.

Despite the celebration, people also said folks in Cuba are still divided. There are people who supported Castro and benefited from his rule.

Senator Ron Wyden (OR-D) also weighed in on Saturday. He said he has new hope for better U.S./Cuba relations. Wyden said the last time he visited Cuba, people there were very interested in Oregon exports.

KGW


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