Cubans in NJ Critical of New U.S.-Cuba Relations

(Photo via El Diario)

(Photo via El Diario)

Cubans living in New Jersey did not welcome the U.S. government’s announcement that it will reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba.

In Union City, home to a large number of Cubans exiles who arrived in the ’60s and established a bastion for their anti-Castro struggle overseas, the news was the topic of discussion in small businesses.

“I don’t agree,” said 32-year-old Tomas Romero, who arrived in the city over a decade ago. “I suppose that the measure will only allow people to enter the island, but not to leave it.”

Israel Abreu, director of the Committee to Aid Human Rights Activists, expressed disappointment: “The people will not benefit and, with the dollars that will enter the island, the government will be able to continue repressing them.”

At El Artesano, one of the several Cuban restaurants on Bergenline Avenue, 62-year-old customer Coquita Meléndez, said that the news made her sad, not happy.

“This, to me, means that the more than 40 years I have been in exile will be in vain, because the blockade was a way to reject the regime.”

Meanwhile, Emilio del Valle, founder of the Hudson County Cuban parade, said that he would agree to the talks under certain conditions. “First, it must be guaranteed that there will be free elections and that humanitarian conditions will improve,” said del Valle.

Vincent Prieto, president of the State Assembly, said that he categorically disagrees with the talks. “I lived under the regime that still exists in Cuba. I know firsthand about that government’s poor human rights record,” said Prieto.

Pascual Vallin, vice president of the Hijos y Amigos de Fomento Club, also expressed his opposition. “Cuba must meet requirements such as freedom of expression and eliminating entry and exit restrictions for exiles,” said Vallin.

Similarly, Sergio Gatria, from the Movimiento 30 de Noviembre (30th of November Movement), said that he is not surprised by the news, and accused the Obama administration of trying to help the Castro regime, “which faces a great crisis because Venezuela is going through a difficult situation and will not be able to continue supporting [Cuba].”

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