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Reopening of embassy offers hope for change in Cuba, Raleigh man says

Posted August 14, 2015

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— At the Old Havana Sandwich Shop in Durham, the colors are light and the air is heavy with the smell of slow-roasted pork.

Owner Roberto Capo Matos, 44, grew up in communist Cuba and sought political asylum in the United States 12 years ago.

"It is a blessing to be able to come to the U.S. and have the support of the American government and the American love for many years now.”

Matos has always known Cuba and the U.S. as estranged neighbors that were oceans apart, separated by more than just 90 miles of water.

But the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Havana on Friday made the distance a little shorter.

Matos said he has thought a lot about the recent thawing of relations between the two countries. He celebrates it, yes; but it's tempered.

Matos fears any income Cuba receives from this new openness could be used to further oppress the people. The Cuban government, he said, is nothing if not a good manipulator.

"I am skeptical, but I am willing to take the risk because of the issue of bringing hope back to the Cuban people,” he said.

Cuba is still a place where political opponents are thrown in prison and dreams of hardworking people don't come true. Matos hears often from his family back in Cuba.

"The main word that they keep saying and saying, and I keep hearing back from them is ‘hope.’” He said “They have a new hope. The Cubans have lost their hope for a better future for many years now.”

To him, the future does look bright - and the air hangs heavy with opportunity.

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  • Paul Donovan Aug 15, 2015
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    With the horrible negotiators we currently have in this administration, we got nothing and Cuba got everything. What is being done here is actually against existing US law since the oppression and incarceration of dissidents still exists in this dictatorship and free elections have not been held. Refer to the Cuban Democracy Act passed in 1992 for details.