As the United States and Cuba reopened their embassies Monday, Guillermo Belt stepped inside the Cuban embassy in Northwest Washington, D.C., where his grandfather worked many decades ago.
Belt's grandfather, who had the same name, was the Cuban ambassador to the U.S. in the 1940s and mayor of Havana in the 1930s. Today, his grandfather's legacy gained Belt entry into the embassy. "I think it's terrific, and great for Cuba and … [the] Americans and I look forward to traveling there," he told the Washington Examiner outside the embassy.
Other visitors arrived to see the newly-raised Cuban flag above the embassy. Dennis Rivera of Puerto Rico thinks it only natural to support Cuba. "The Cuban people are like brothers for Puerto Rico," he told the Examiner. Rivera said that Cuban people support the quest of some Puerto Ricans to win independence from the U.S. In turn, he believes "the people of Cuba need to be open to the rest of the world and have … associations with other countries."
Spanish professor Michele Pascucci of Alexandria, Va., visited Cuba a few years ago. "The Cuban people were very eager to reestablish diplomatic relations," she told the Examiner. "I could tell that it was already in a period of transition."
Pascucci believes it was past time for the U.S. to restore ties with Cuba. "Things are going to change a lot, whether good or bad, depending on what perspective you take," Pascucci said.
Camilo Deza of Peru is wary of change in Cuba. He thinks it was hypocritical of the U.S. to have relations with communist China but not Cuba. Looking at it from the American perspective, he sees human rights continuing to be a concern. "Hopefully some things are going to be better and some things are going to be worse," he told the Examiner.
On the other hand, Juliana Moraes of Brazil believes that Cuba did not need to give up much of its culture and politics to end the embargo. "I just think it's great that they're back open to the world," she told the Examiner. Her country already does business in Cuba, and she wants to see the U.S. do the same.
Eliana Carlin of Peru has a lot of expectations for Cuba's future. She believes the embargo was "the most harmful thing for Cubans" and wants to see the countries put politics aside. "The most important thing here is to work for the Cuban people," she told the Examiner. "This is for sure, in a very symbolic way, the end of the 20th century."
Emily Leayman is an intern at the Washington Examiner