Tensions Rise in Little Havana as Embassy Opens in Cuba

The reopening of the U.S. embassy in Cuba led to heated exchanges in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood Friday.

Cuban Exile group Vigilia Mambisa gathered outside Cafe Versailles shortly before Secretary of State John Kerry raised the U.S. flag over the embassy in Havana.

Holding signs reading "Helping Castro is a Crime," the group brought a handmade foam flag of the July 26 Cuban revolution that they crushed in the street. A passerby who saw the pieces of the flag stopped and got into a heated exchange with the group before they were separated.

Later in the morning, another altercation occurred and a man was placed into a patrol car.

As tensions rose, some at the cafe said they remained optimistic of democratic reform in Cuba.

"I think they should go ahead with the negotiations," Jose Bolanos said. "Eventually in the future I think good things are going to come for the Cuban people, but at the same time, you're dealing with the 'serial killer,' you're dealing with people, they're not politicians."

Change is what many in Miami are hoping for, specifically when it comes to human rights violations on the island.

Adolfo Fernandez was a political prisoner for many years and said conditions have only worsened for dissidents since Dec. 17.

"The last 17 Sundays, consecutive Sundays, they have been brutally repressed and that has not subsided," Fernandez said.

Although most in the crowd expressed strong sentiments against Friday's events, some felt it was bittersweet as they watched the stars and stripes fly over the country where they were born.

"I hope this brings the Cuban people an opportunity in the future to really have freedom," Bolanos said.

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