Cuba-bound passengers at MIA speak out on Castro’s death

MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - Reaction among passengers departing to and returning from Cuba at Miami International Airport ran the gamut from skepticism to relief after finding out former Cuban President Fidel Castro had died, late Friday.

When mentioning Castro’s name, many passengers preparing to board flights to the island nation declined to comment. Others, including people from outside of South Florida, said the issue is relatively new to them.

For all of them, it is a travel day that they will likely never forget.

“Even though he’d been in bad health for so long, I was just absolutely surprised,” said Joe Diaz.

Emily Jones and Cornelia Perutz, old college roommates reuniting for a charter tour said they were surprised by the news.

“He’s outlived most of the political figures in the U.S.,” said Jones.

“I thought, this is an historic moment to be here,” said Perutz. “Castro has been a big name in Cuba for so long.”

Perutz also said that she is excited about her Caribbean adventure. “I’m looking forward to the music and just meeting people,” she said.

Another traveler leaving for vacation in Cuba said he was in Little Havana when he heard the news. “We were in a club with some friends, and we got a text message saying, ‘Castro died,’ and we thought it was a joke,” said Frank Pineiro. “So we checked, and it was real.”

An out-of-town visitor said she was surprised not just by Castro’s passing but by how local Cuban-Americans reacted. “We walked into the lobby of our hotel, and there it was on television,” she said, “and there seemed to be some revelry, and we weren’t sure what that meant.”

Pineiro said he’s not sure what to expect when he touches down in Havana. “I have mixed feelings, I’m going for two weeks, and I want to have a relaxed time, and I hope there is nothing going on there, and I hope it’s cool and calm,” he said.

“I think it’s interesting,” said one woman. “I don’t know what to expect, whether there’ll be mourning, whether there will possibly be relief, but I guess it’s not much of a surprise.”

A man who was returning to Miami from Cuba told 7News that he was in a Havana nightclub when, all of a sudden, the music stopped and someone announced that Castro had died.

For those that at one point called Cuba home and have been longing for a better situation for the people still living there, they hope that the passing of the former ruler sparks a major and lasting development.

“I don’t wish death on anyone, but I’m just ready for seeing change in Cuba,” said Diaz. “People need it.”

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