WNY reacts to change in US-Cuba relations

Posted at 11:52 PM, Dec 17, 2014
and last updated 2015-12-12 23:52:54-05

Alicia Granto-Estenoz is a proud Cuban American, born there and sent to the U.S. by herself when she was just 15.

"I'm a Peter Pan baby, it's called. A Peter Pan child. Those that flew [the country] without their parents," she said.

Word of improved U.S.-Cuba relations means plenty to the former Buffalo teacher, member of the Hispanic Women's League, and mother of five.

"I've always dreamed of going to Cuba with them, because they're curiosity about where I grew up is immense. They say how on Earth did you become the woman you are now?" she added.

The University at Buffalo also has strong Cuban ties. The school ran a dual degree program with the University of Havana for several years, and Dr. Henry Louis Taylor wrote a book about the island nation titled "Inside el Barrio: A bottom-up view of neighborhood life in Castro's Cuba."

"This will be good for the ordinary people. Because it will create an opportunity for more resources to spend on those issues that they need in order to improve the quality of their lives," Taylor said.

Both Taylor and Granto-Estenoz say they are still being cautiously optimistic about the future, but believe things will be better than the time of the Life magazine from January 1959, showing Fidel Castro.

"It's just a wonderful feeling of promise and hope," Granto-Estenoz concluded.