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Opinions From Ybor City Vary On Obama's Cuba Visit

Feb 19, 2016

To call an American president's visit to Cuba 'historic' doesn't reflect the rarity of the occasion.

In January 1928, President Calvin Coolidge arrived in Havana via the USS Texas, a warship. 'Talkies' was still a phrase people used when referring to movies with sound. It has been almost 90 years since that visit.

When the White House announced an official visit for March 21 and 22, it was a giant step in the process of normalizing our relationship with the Communist nation.

But opinions on this side of the Florida Straits are mixed.

Mike Cincunegui
Credit Christopher Collier / WUSF News

"I think he needs to go," said Mike Cincunegui, owner of Long Ash Cigars in Tampa's Historic Ybor City District, and the son of a woman born in Cuba. "I think he needs to go see it firsthand. I went in September and I had a great experience there. But again, especially if you're the president and you're gonna develop that relationship you need to go. So it's a  necessary trip, absolutely. One-hundred percent."

Bobby Cabalero is a Cuban immigrant who has been living and working in Florida for 30 years.

"For me, I think this was the best thing he can do right now, you know, " he says. " Go to Cuba and try to make the relation and everything, you know, coming true. It's good for everybody."

Joaquin Saladrigas works as a representative for My Father's Cigar Company.

Joaquin Saladrigas
Credit Christopher Collier / WUSF News

"I think it's a good thing, if they make some changes. In the government," he says. "If he just goes there to lift the embargo and keep those people in power, that's just gonna help the system to stay there. So, you know like I said, changes have to be made. In order for us to lift the embargo and have a good relationship with the country."

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