President Obama's plan to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba is drawing mixed reactions. Some refugees who escaped to this country from Cuba are among the most critical.
Peter Sust is living the American dream. He's the head of his own manufacturing business in Stockton. Sust spend his early childhood in a small fishing village near Havana.
His next door neighbor was Che Guevarra and Fidel Castro lived a couple of blocks away.
Sust recounts his memories in a just published book titled "A Boy From Cuba."
In 1960 when he was 10 years old, Sust and his family fled Cuba.
Sust says resentment still runs deep for refugees like himself who don't expect any significant improvements for the Cuban people if the U.S. resumes relations.
"You don't negotiate with people like Raul and Fidel. It's only going to go in their direction and so it seems like a futile attempt to expect a new dialogue to change their mind."
Sust points out that even foreign investment into Cuba's tourism trade has done little to improve the living standards for Cubans or change the political climate.
Locals, Experts In Agricultural Industry React To Normalization Of Cuba Relations
The announcement that the U.S. is easing economic and travel restrictions with Cuba was welcome news to the owners of a Sacramento-area restaurant. Margarita Chang, 36, and her husband own Sol Cubano, a Cuban restaurant in North Highlands.
She left Cuba when she was 17 and immigrated illegally to California. Chang says she now hopes to take her two daughters, ages nine and six, to Cuba.
"I am really glad that this is happening because it will be easier for families to visit Cuba, you know, take our kids to Cuba and, you know, have them visit where we used to live, where we grew up," Chang says.
Meanwhile, experts say California’s agriculture industry stands to benefit from President Obama’s action on Cuba.
Josh Rolph with the California Farm Bureau Federation says Cuba currently imports about $200 million of commodities from other nations – but less than a $1 million from California.
“My guess is that with our proximity, with the quality that you get from California products, that we would be able to get a pretty – in the tens of millions, at least, initially – of our product into Cuba," says Rolph.
Rolph says there’s a market in Cuba for California nuts, dairy, fruits and vegetables.
-Ed Joyce / Capital Public Radio
Follow us for more stories like this
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.