Tampa, FL (WFLA) – As President Obama announced the opening of an American Embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, Cuban native Marlene Reyes was rejoicing for another reason. She has just gone through the ceremony to become an official American Citizen. “This is a dream,” said Reyes of her new U.S. Citizenship.
She also sees the value of having a U.S. Embassy in Havana. “It’s better for all Cuba and it’s open it’s much better,” said Reyes. American Steve Rupert has been traveling to Cuba for years and has licenses that allow him to travel to Cuba under certain allowable categories.Rupert believes the opening of embassies between the two countries will be beneficial. “What it does is, it’s going to greatly facilitate trade, communications, visas between, let’s say experts or professors or things like that,” said Rupert.
Ron Christaldi is with the Greater Tampa Area Chamber of Commerce. Christaldi recently traveled to Cuba with a group of Tampa Community leaders and business owners and saw a shift in relations between the two countries. “The culture of our government had changed and you could feel that energy in the Cubans as well. I believe this is a very significant momentum step in the direction of full normalization and that’s big for us as a region here,” said Christaldi. He also sees business opportunities ahead for Tampa as relations between the two countries thaw from the Cold War era policies of the past. “I believe that the relaxation of the embargo and the normalization of relations through establishing the embassies will encourage folks to take that extra step forward and engage in permitted business,” said Christaldi.