It may have been 54 years since the American flag was last seen waving above the U.S. embassy in Havana, but mixed reactions to Friday’s flag-raising ceremony revealed that the scars of Cuba’s brutal past run deep — and won’t heal overnight. “It’s a bittersweet day,” said David Gomez, political director of advocacy group #CubaNow. “It’s overdue. It’s something that should’ve happened a long time ago.” Gomez and his organization support normalizing relations between the two countries, including lifting the U.S.’s longstanding economic embargo against the communist island nation. But he knows that not all Cuban-Americans feel the same way, particularly those who came to the U.S. as exiles of Fidel Castro’s brutal regime. A December report from the Pew Research Center, published following the unveiling of President Obama’s new Cuba policy, showed that disagreement within the Cuban-American community over ending the embargo largely falls along generational lines. As the percentage of Cuban-Americans who arrived in the U.S. after 1990 has grown (as of 2013, that was 56 percent of Cuban immigrants), so too has the percentage who want to end the embargo. A 2014 survey by Florida International University found, for example, that 68 percent of Cubans living in Miami — and 80 percent of recent arrivals — supported reinstating U.S.-Cuban relations. Yet the majority’s willingness to make nice with Cuba isn’t exactly echoed by the loudest voices in the community. On Friday, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., born in Cuba and the first Cuban-American elected to Congress, took to Twitter and CNN to protest the U.S. embassy.
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