MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Cuban exiles packed the Miami Beach City Commission chambers Monday night for a public hearing about a Cuban consulate possibly being established in the city.
After hours of discussion, the Miami Beach Hispanic Affairs Committee voted to make a recommendation to the City Commission to oppose a Cuban consulate in Miami Beach. The recommendation will be made to the commission during a meeting Wednesday.
The public hearing was called after Mayor Phillip Levine announced that he was open to the possibility of a Cuban consulate in Miami Beach, shortly before his trip to the island nation last month.
Commissioner Ricky Arriola, who is a Cuban-American, went on the trip with the mayor.
Arriola said his family lost everything when they left Cuba, and it's his belief that allowing for a Cuban consulate in the city "is an idea that should be discussed."
The meeting followed months of major changes in the relationship between the United States and Cuba.
While some see changes such as embassies opening and President Barack Obama visiting the island as positive changes, others don't feel the same.
During the meeting, Miriam De La Pena spoke about losing her son, Mario, when the Brothers to the Rescue plane on which he was traveling was shot down in 1996.
"Yes, we should have a conversation," she said. "We should have a conversation of freedom, of democracy, of human rights for our people. That's the conversation we should have with the Castro government."
Dorian Williams, who is not Cuban, said the consulate would be a symbol of pain, and he doesn't support it.
Miami-Dade County has already passed a resolution opposing the consulate.