Carolina Nunez Plasencia was sound asleep early Saturday morning when she got the call from her daughter telling her the news: Fidel Castro was dead.
“Is it real?” Plasencia asked. “Is it confirmed?”
Once Plasencia turned on the TV and realized that it was not another rumor, she raced to Little Havana to join the thousands of other Cuban-Americans who took to the streets to celebrate the day they had all waited so long for.
In every corner of this Cuban-American city, people waved Cuban flags, honked their horns, banged their pots and pans and hugged each other late into the night. Police departments blocked off roads to allow people to have their moment.
There were Cubans who left the island shortly after Castro took power in 1959, expecting that his rule would be short-lived and they’d be back home soon. There were Cubans who have poured out of the island in the decades since, fleeing political persecution and economic ruin.
Plasencia, 86, left in 2000 after her husband spent 25 years held as a political prisoner and died, leaving her alone with their two daughters. The three of them made their way to the U.S. — the daughters smuggled into the country on boats. On Saturday, they found themselves on a street corner in Little Havana, hugging and crying as a makeshift band marched past.
After their long hug ended, the youngest daughter, Virginia Perez Nunez, tried to explain the emotions that people felt in this southern city.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Alan Gomez