While U.S. Embassy Signals Change, Cubans Hope Some Things Stay the Same

The opening of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba may signal a new era in diplomatic relations, but Cubans know it won't bring immediate, sweeping changes, and some think that's best.

A mix of Cubans, some Americans and tourists from other countries -- all eager to see history -- lined the street Friday in Havana to see the American flag raised over the U.S. Embassy for the first time since 1954. Many stopped by to snap photos of themselves in front of it. Many of the Cubans who waited hours in the heat waved or wrapped themselves in their own American flags while other held tight to Cuba's.

As the flag climbed the pole, cheers erupted.

"It is an important moment, not only for Cuba or the United States, but for all the world," Odales Gonzales of Cuba said.

Her husband, Jorge Sobrino, said he often wondered why the U.S. had relations with other communist nations but not Cuba.

Many Americans also made a point to be there. The Coastal Carolina University men’s college basketball team is playing in Cuba this week. Rising junior Elijah Wilson said he hopes the changes will help with the poor conditions he's seen.

Cuban-American Jorge Luis Hernandez, who left Cuba for Miami in 1980, is visiting his brothers.

"I think the biggest suffering and the biggest pain as a Cuban-American is the suffering of families," he said.

He hopes the values of the flag aren't ignored.

"The flag stands for what it stands for, which is freedom, justice and liberty for all," he said.

“Change” is a word heard a lot, especially when it comes to opening up commerce between the U.S. and Cuba -- mostly, some say, to help give Cubans access to more basic goods.

Some Cubans are wary of what else may change. A group of senior citizens told News4 they fear losing their rich culture.

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