Cuban Exiles in Miami React to Cuba Developments

Reactions from the Cuban exile community in Miami were mixed after President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. and Cuba were moving to normalize relations.

Jose Basulto, president of exile group Brothers to the Rescue, said he was happy that jailed American Alan Gross was freed but said he was upset that three Cuban spies were being released.

"I think that it's offensive to the Cuban-American community and the voters in the Cuban-American community at large what this administration has done," Basulto said.

The Brothers to the Rescue was a group of exiles whose planes dropped leaflets over Cuba. Four members of the group were killed when two of their planes were shot down in 1996.

Maggie Khuly, sister of Armando Alejandre Jr., one of the pilots killed in the 1996 incident, also expressed frustration over the release of the convicted spies.

"They are calling it a humanitarian exchange but not one had the decency to call the families and tell us this was happening," Khuly said. "We cannot believe our country has done this to us. It's horrible, and it's a slap in the face to the U.S. justice system. These convictions went up to the Supreme Court, which decided not to take the case."

At Versailles restaurant in Little Havana, many older generation Cubans expressed anger over the announcement.

"The United States at this moment is on their knees to the Castro regime," said Miguel Saaverdra, president of the Vigilia Mambisa Organization.

Others said they believe the changes will help ordinary Cubans.

"I truly believe that the embargo and not having negotiations with Cuba have only hurt the Cuban people, not the Cuban regime, not the Castro brothers, but the Cuban people," Sebastian Paris said.

"It's not in any way saying that we agree with the policies of the Cuban government," Jorge Davila said. "We don't agree with the way the Chinese government treats its people, we don't agree with the way the Saudi Arabian government treats its people, that does not mean that we don't have embassadors in those nations, that we don't have political dialogue with those nations."

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