Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

With Restored US-Cuba Ties, a Long Trip Home for Miami Cubans

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

With Restored US-Cuba Ties, a Long Trip Home for Miami Cubans

Article excerpt

Raul Moas's family has a 1982 bottle of Dom Perignon sitting in the back of their fridge to pop the day Fidel Castro dies.

Like many Cuban exiles in Miami, they have fraught stories from the island. One grandfather was arrested and charged with counterrevolutionary activities in 1961. He fled to the United States, and it took six years before his wife and child could join him.

The revolution created deep divisions through the family of Mr. Moas's other grandfather, a Castro opponent who left his pro- revolution mother and siblings behind in the 1960s. He never saw his mother again.

But in August 2006, when news broke that Mr. Castro was ill and had handed power to his brother Raul, the then-college freshman watched the TV coverage with unease. As Miami Cubans celebrated on- screen, parading an effigy of Castro in a coffin, Moas thought, "That doesn't represent me."

"That was the first time I truly felt I couldn't identify with my community," says the executive director of Roots of Hope, an organization that supports Cuban youth on the island.

Today Moas has plenty of company. The mass outcry from the Cuban- American community that many expected when President Obama announced the normalization of relations in December hasn't really materialized. The shift in thinking can be seen in Moas's own family: While his more hard-line family members haven't been unequivocal in their support of his media appearances, they haven't condemned him either.

The American flag now flies over the US Embassy in Havana, and the US and Cuba are moving toward an opening of relations for the first time in more than 50 years. Watching the events of the past eight months has been head-spinning for a community organized around a conflict that seemed completely calcified.

"I thought I had thought a lot about Cuba" before Dec. 17, says Richard Blanco, a writer and poet born to Cuban exiles who read at both Mr. …

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