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In California, Cuba Announcment Seen From Varying Points of View

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Not all Cuban Americans are enthusiastic about Obama's announcement that he will restore diplomatic relations with the Caribbean island nation. Here, a Cuban flag.
Not all Cuban Americans are enthusiastic about Obama's announcement that he will restore diplomatic relations with the Caribbean island nation. Here, a Cuban flag.  | Photo: Melody Breaker/Flickr/Creative Commons

In California, Obama's announcement on Wednesday that the U.S. would end some Cuban restrictions and restore diplomatic relations were met with applause or condemnation, depending on political party. Many Democrats agreed with the decision, while Republicans did not.

Marta Darby, a Cuban American blogger in Orange County's Mission Viejo, aligned with her conservative brethren.

Darby is happy that Alan Gross, the American held captive in Cuba for five years, is free. But she isn't pleased about any of Obama's plans. She dislikes that the U.S. released three Cubans convicted of spying, apparently in exchange for Gross.

"It was not a fair trade," she said.

Darby was born in Cuba but her family had to flee the island nation, she explained, because the government attempted to murder her father. "We were political refugees for years," she said. Now a mother of four grown children, Darby writes the blog My big, fat Cuban family. With a focus on food and culture, her blog is a place where "I get to celebrate the blending of my two defining cultures as I live life on the Cuban-American hyphen. I'm 100% Cuban and 100% American."

She describes herself as passionate about all things Cuban, as a "Reagan Conservative," and an Evangelical Christian.

"The president wants to normalize relations with Cuba, but Cuba is not normal. They have thousands of political prisoners. I have family there and they will not be any more free" as a result of relaxed sanctions, she said.

This deal will do nothing for human rights violations perpetrated by the government, she said.

"I fee l like it's a power play on the part of the Castros and the U.S. is walking into it," she said.

Darby's conservative leanings might align her with many other conservatives. Congressional leaders from California appear to fall along party lines when it comes to Cuba, according to the Fresno Bee.

Obama plans to open an embassy, relax travel restrictions, and increase limits on remittances Cubans can send back to Cuba. The president needs Congress' support to end the embargo but can take executive actions that mimic congressional support.

"It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba," the White House said in a statement. "With our actions today, we are calling on Cuba to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities. In that spirit, we should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens we seek to help."

In a statement, Sen. Dianne Feinstein commended Gross' release and said, "This is also good news for our two nations. For too long our relationship has been soured by mistrust and clouded by memories of the Cold War."

Sen. Barbara Boxer concurred that this was a step in the right direction, while Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority leader from Bakersfield, spoke out against it.

For California, lifting the embargo would have "enormous potential to expand jobs and partnerships with the state's technology, biotech and agricultural sectors," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. But some questioned the impact a small country with a weak economy could have -- and how fast.

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