Local reaction to lifting of Cuban embargo - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Local reaction to lifting of Cuban embargo

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Thousands of Cuban Americans live in San Diego County, and many are still afraid to speak out against the island's communist government. One local businessman tells us he has mixed reactions to Wednesday's developments.

On the streets of Havana, the people of Cuba love Americans. They welcome the lifting of sanctions and a more open dialog between the U.S. and the Cuban government.

But back in San Diego, some are skeptical.

"You could take a picture today in Cuba. It's still frozen in the 50s," Daniel Mera said.

Mera runs Andre's Cuban Restaurant in the Morena District, named after his late father, who emigrated here from Cuba. The family still won't travel to Cuba because of the communist government.

"You can't forget about the Cuban Missile Crisis. It's the same people, nothing has changed," Mera said.

Mera worries that the lifting of sanctions will lead to more money flowing into the hands of a corrupt government run by Fidel Casto's sons.

"It's an oppressive government. If that doesn't change and we start doing business with them, people are so wrong to think that the money is going to go to the people," he said.

First and foremost, he says, there needs to be democracy in Cuba.

"The Castro brothers have to leave. The system has to be changed. People have to have basic freedoms like here in the United States. I mean, they had it one time too," he said.

On the other hand, Mera welcomes the establishment of full diplomatic relations and an embassy in Havana.

"As an American, I'm a Cuban-American, and you travel anywhere in the world, if there's an embassy you have a friend. So I think that might be an accomplishment," he said.

Another good thing: in recent years Mera's family members have been allowed to come to the United States to visit, thanks to more lenient travel restrictions. It's part of the ongoing effort to open ties between the two nations.

"Like my cooks, they're all happy. If they can get an inch they're happy with that. But I want more than an inch," Mera said.

Andre's Cuban Restaurant celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. The eatery is run by Daniel, his brother and their mother.

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