Hispanic American Citizens Council - Hosts Debate

FOX 4 Fort Myers March 26, 2015 - 10PM News

By Fox 4 News Staff. CREATED Mar 26, 2015
FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Hispanic American Citizen's Council sponsored a discussion about lifting the Cuban embargo.

It's a family birthday picture from the seventies and the hardships leading up to it that bring Garbriel Sanchez-Menendez almost to tears.

"I was separated from my father and i don't believe politics should be separating families," said Sanchez-Menendez.

But they did for him. In 1962, he and his mom and sister left Cuba. His father was forced to stay behind until six years later when he made the painful journey.

"The vaccinations they gave him killed both of his kidneys," said Sanchez-Menendez. "He lasted 4.5 years."

His story is all too common for the millions of Cuban Americans who left their loved ones. But talks of ending the Cuban embargo give people like Menendez hope.

"I have my aunt, my uncle my two cousins i left at the age of two, i never knew them," said Sanchez-Menendez.

And it's why the Hispanic American Citizens Council held a discussion at Keiser University to explore the topic. Congressional candidate April Freeman spoke at the event and shared why she feels restoring diplomatic ties would help the Cuban community.

"For them, they're going to be able to go there see what their heritage is and visit with relatives that they haven't had before," said Freeman.

For Menendez, the possibility runs deep. Traveling to Cuba, would fill a void he's been waiting his whole life to close. After more than 50 years, he may finally get to see his family.

"I have an emptiness in my soul that i want to get to meet them, to show them that i love them," said Sanchez-Menendez. "And to show them that polltics aside family is more important."

Many Florida lawmakers including Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Rick Scott are against lifting the embargo with Cuba. They say that resuming a relationship with communist Cuba is simply doing business with tyrants.