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Dallas-Fort Worth Cuban Americans have mixed feelings over Obama's plan

Jose Hernandez will never forget Dec. 23, 1961.

That's when he – then just 8-years-old – was in the Havana airport in Cuba, crying as his older sister forced him on an airplane with her, leaving their country, their parents and a growing dictatorship behind.

"Much of my family decided they needed to leave the country and it was safer if the kids went out first," said Hernandez, 55, an international law lawyer in Keller. "I watched my parents through the window. My older sister had to drag me, crying, into the airplane."

On Monday, President Barack Obama began easing back on travel and money transfers involving Cuban Americans – steps some say may ultimately lead to a lift of the U.S.'s nearly half-century old economic embargo against Cuba.

Hernandez has not been back to Cuba, but that – someday – will change.

"I have to go back," Hernandez said. "It has changed my life. It led to coming to the United States as an immigrant, it led to being a displaced person and starting over, not just me but my entire family."

As talks of warmer U.S.-Cuba relations have heated up, expectations have grown over the potential for major changes in the way the U.S. has dealt with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and his successor, his brother Raul. Cuban Americans in North Texas have mixed feelings.

Some say they'll never go back until Cuba is free and not led by a Castro. They feel restrictions currently in place can be punitive against the Cuban government.

Others say the embargo has not worked and has only given the Castros an argument – that their people are downtrodden because of the U.S. embargoes and actions.

To read the complete article, visit www.star-telegram.com.

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