When Raul Castro announced his family dynasty’s grip on power in Cuba, Horacio Lelena was happy to see him leave.
Lillerena, a contractor in New Jersey, fled Communist Island as part of a mass migration to Cubans known as the Mariel Boat Lift in 1980, when Raul’s brother Fidel Castro was at the helm.
“We were happy. We look forward to it,” 61-year-old Lelena, who was playing rummy with friends at Jose Marty Park in Union City. The park houses a bronze of 19th-century Cuban poet and patriot, who lived in the 1880s. Remained in exile in New York until he returned to Cuba to fight against Spanish imperialism, where he died in 1895.
Like Marty, Lelerena originally moved from Havana to New York City. He said that Lelerena has lived in New Jersey since 1982. Dubbed on the Hudson, Havana is home to a small Cuban community in Union City and West New York since the 1940s.
Although 89-year-old Raul Castro stepped down from his leadership of the island’s ruling Communist Party, there would be little change on the island.
“Everyone who’s got to do with the Communist Party has got to go,” Llerena said. “All the remaining people are alive, they have to pay for all the crimes of the last 61 years.”
After serving two terms as Cuban President, Raul Castro stepped down in 2018, allowing his successor Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez to assume the presidency. In 2008, Raul Castro took over the leadership of Cuba from his elder brother Fidel Castro, the revolutionary leader who had ruled the island since Fulgenio Batista’s rule in 1959. Fidel Castro died in 2016.
Although Diaz-Cannell is part of a younger generation of politicians on the island, he is serving at the behest of Raul Castro and is unlikely to make any extensive changes on the island, other Cuban-American critics told The Post.
“They make a good point, but I see no difference”, said 52-year-old Tony, a first-generation Cuban American who runs his family’s Cuban restaurant in La Pola, West New York. In 2018, a Food Network critic called the restaurant’s Cuban sandwich the best in America, with other Cuban communities in Florida feuding.
Tony said that this was just one to move the torch to another location, Tony said, citing power on the island.
Diaz-Canel will likely be chosen as the Communist Party general secretary during the party’s conference this weekend. Both the president and the head of the party have traditionally been held by the same leader in the country.
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