Cuban exiles feel hope with Fidel Castro's death

Hope pinned on future; expectations tempered in reality

MIAMI – The Ladies in White's path to a peaceful opposition to the Castro regime were made up of dissidents on the island, exiles in South Florida and the families of political prisoners long gone.

In Miami, where they previously marched on Eighth Street, hoping to see the day Fidel Castro was gone for good, they now rejoice on it.

Just last week, members of Las Damas de Blanco were on hand for the unveiling of a street in Little Havana that bears the group's name.

Among them was one of their leaders, Berta Soler, whose husband was arrested during the 2003 purge of dissidents on the island.

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado's declaration that the group has Miami's heart rings truer today.

At the Bay of Pigs Museum, news of the longtime dictator's death brought some measured relief. The older of the two Castro brothers now gone, the hope turns to the future while expectations remain tempered in reality.

"From one point of view, we are happy to get rid of him, but in another point of view, we are sad that he was never able to be brought to a tribunal to be judged. That's the sad part of it," said Felix Rodriguez, chairman of the Bay of Pigs Museum.

It's a sentiment also expressed by former political prisoners who live in Florida -- the tens of thousands of them. Many are still haunted by their past, but excited about what may come next.