Castro resigns: Now what? - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Castro resigns: Now what?

Reporter: John Bachman

It's the moment many Cuban Americans have been waiting for for 50 years. President Fidel Castro says he's stepping down permanently.

But some experts on Cuba say the big announcement won't necessarily mean big changes. The reaction among Cuban Americans to the announcement made Tuesday was mixed - some celebrated while some remained muted. That's because, as one college professor put it, Tuesday's announcement may be more symbolic than historic.

Professor Luis Duno-Gottberg is not Cuban, but he teaches about the country everyday and has been studying it for most of his career. He says Tuesday's announcement that Fidel Castro is - once and for all - giving up his power might actually be a disappointment to some Cuban- Americans. "I think, in symbolic terms, it is a defeat for all of those who wanted that dynamic moment, you know, that won't happen."

Tuesday's announcement came with little drama, no trial for human rights violations, no prison time, no celebrations in the street. Duno-Gottberg says the transfer of power has been in the works for a year and a half when Castro first temporarily stepped aside because of his health.

But Cuban waitress Yeilis Canazares disagrees. "I think that this moment is the most important because we now know the change is permanent."

And Evasio Huerta says the announcement is a good thing because there will be a change with more freedom. He spent 12 years in prison as a Cuban dissident and says he didn't think Castro would leave office so quietly.

But Duno-Gottberg says if the transition is quiet, it might be the best way for the people of Cuba to gain democracy. "But I don't think it's all that negative. It's a progression, and that it builds on the work of the people in Cuba."

Former U.S. Senator and Cuban American Mel Martinez said "Today [Tuesday], I am cautiously optimistic for the people of Cuba. We must remember that optimistic for the people of Cuba. We must remember that Fidel Castro has resigned from a position he was never elected to in the first place."

Local Cuban Americans are hopeful about Tuesday's announcement, but many are doubtful that much will change. "I just think anything is better than Castro, and we've been looking forward to this day for a long time," says Robert Gonzalez.

"I think it basically is more of the same," adds Manny Zapata.

The owner of the Havana restaurant in West Palm Beach told us he moved from Cuba 40 years ago and hasn't gone back since. He says anyone who goes to Cuba is giving money to Castro's regime.

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