YBOR CITY, Fla. (WFLA) – Wednesday night’s parade in Ybor City wasn’t your typical celebration with bands, beads and floats, rather a gathering where people were flying the Cuban flag, drivers were beeping their horns driving down 7th Avenue, and those on the sidewalks were chanting, among other things, “Liberty.”
For Jessica Pignano, this is an emotional time. Pignano was one of hundreds of Cuban Americans who attended a parade in Ybor City on Wednesday night. She explains she was born in Cuba but left at a young age.
“My parents brought me here when I was seven, and I left everything behind. My parents left everything behind. I still have family over there. I get emotional really. I’m sorry. And, we’ve just had enough,” said Pignano. “We’ve had enough. We’ve been saying this for over 60 years and our time has come.”
Yanko Maceda is also a Cuban-born American and was a bit nervous about the parade. He owns Tabanero Cigars at the corner of 16th Street and 7th Avenue.
“Yes, I get nervous. Any protest I get nervous,” said Maceda, who explains he is also excited by what’s happening in his native country. “Seeing that in Cuba, it’s like, wow! Is this really the beginning of something? The beginning of change? Because everybody’s talking about the end. We don’t know when the end of that dictatorship is going to happen. This is the beginning. This is good. “
Some in the crowd feel that the United States needs to do more to help the Cuban people. There were chants “Where is Biden?” from time to time. Alejandro Sandoval is a Gulf War Veteran who wonders why it’s okay for him to go to war for America yet the government seems unwilling to help his people.
“If the U.S. government can send me to have nightmares to fight for oil, they can send a humanitarian aid 90 miles south of this great state to help the Cuban people that need it,” said Sandoval.