Burlington, Vt. - The news of the former leader of Cuba Fidel Castro's death is sparking mixed emotions around the world and the nation.
Millions of Cubans fled their country to seek asylum on American soil. One of the places many settled was Florida.
People gathered in the streets of Miami, celebrating Castro's death. On the other hand, back in Cuba, the nation begins 9 official days of mourning, with flags flying at half staff.
Professor Alexander Stewart from the University of Vermont explains how reactions are so mixed.
"He's very much admired for his ability to stand up to the U.S. all these years, you know its a tiny island of only 11 million people standing up to the most powerful nation on Earth. So, a lot of nations kind of look up to that as something to be admired," Alexander Stewart, the Former Director of UVM the Latin American & Caribbean Studies Department, said.
Stewart says it will be interesting to see how Cuba's younger generation responds following Fidel's death. This is because they are a generation who has only known what it's like to have the country lead by Castro's brothers.
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) says Castro will be remembered as a leader who "deeply divided" Cubans, but the work recently done by the Obama Administration is helping to mend these broken ties.
The Vermont Senator said in a statement: "Having visited Cuba many times, I have been the benefits of the steps President Obama and President Raul Castro have taken to rebuild bridges between our countries. That process has only begun, and it is in the interests of both countries that it continue."
Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo Tweeted about the news, sharing his father's personal experience fleeing the country under Castro's administration. He wrote "May Cubans finally see freedom."
Others tonight are hoping Castro's death will allow the renewed relationship between the U.S. and Cuba to flourish.
The Cuban American Friendship Society in Burlington aims to bring Americans and Cubans together.
The group leads humanitarian trips to Cuba and is responsible for one of the first US construction projects in Havana in nearly 60 years.
"I am hopeful that we can continue moving forward, I think there is enough of a relationship now between people in the United States and people in Cuba that I think we can continue to move forward from a position of friendship. These are our neighbors and one of the closest countries to the United States," Jared Carter from the Cuban-American Friendship Society said.
The group's next trip to Cuba is slated for next month.
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