Cuban-Americans pray for brighter future after Castro's death

Castro's death brings hundreds of all ages together in Coconut Grove

MIAMI – Now that the newness of Fidel Castro's death has worn off slightly, many Cuban-Americans and Cuban exiles took a break from celebrating to attend mass at Ermita de la Caridad Sunday.

Inside the historic church it was standing room only, as hundreds of people, young and old, gathered to pray for a brighter future for Cuba.

JC Planas brought his entire family, including his two young children, telling us it was his wife's dream to come to be there to feel solidarity with those still in Cuba.

"It's a celebration over the end of a brutal era and celebration about the spark of hope," Planas said. "I think people believe this could be the start of something that brings change."

During evening mass the priest preached patience, saying not everyone understands what many Cuban exiles have experienced and why they have been celebrating Castro's death.

"We have a lot of pain. Families (and) friends having been dying in the water," said Cuban exile, Rafaela Ochoa. "I have parents (and) friends that have been dying in Cuba. It's not fair what he (did) with our country."

Ochoa had tears in her eyes as she tried to reach out to those who still don't quite understand the relief so many people in the Cuban community are feeling.

"It's not because we're crazy," she said. "(It's) because we suffer for long time and this is a new beginning for us."

While some partied in the streets since the announcement of Castro's death, Albert Santiago said he and his family handled the news of the former Cuban dictator's death differently.

"I don't think it's great for people to enjoy that, maybe what he's done is not right but maybe not, it was not right at all," Santiago said.

That being said, Santiago believes Castro's death does brighten the future for change on the communist island nation, but recognizes that change will not be immediate.

"It takes time. Changes always takes time," Santiago said.

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