For local man, Obama's visit to Cuba more personal than politics

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Santiago Parlade was born in Eastern Cuba and lived there until he was 16 when his parents sent him to Philadelphia in hopes of more opportunities for their only child. (WPVI)

Santiago Parlade was born in Eastern Cuba and lived there until he was 16. That's when his parents sent him to Philadelphia in hopes of more opportunities for their only child.

His parents followed two years later.

"We did not like what was going on back there," said Parlade.

That was 55 years ago.

PHOTOS: Obama arrives in Cuba for historic visit


But from his Northeast Philadelphia home, the retired Philadelphia School District teacher says not much has changed in his native country.

"Really they haven't changed anything. They have maybe opened up a little bit here or there, but they haven't really changed," said Parlade. "There's no civil rights there. There's no human rights."

And yet on Sunday, President Obama visited the country, marking the first time in nearly 90 years a sitting United States president has visited Cuba.

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President Obama arrived in Havana, Cuba Sunday for a historic visit.



It comes 15 months after the announcement that Cuba and the United states would be restoring diplomatic ties. On the itinerary is a meeting with President Raul Castro.

"For me in particular, it's going to be very difficult when tomorrow I see the president of the United States, a person that I admire greatly, next to a dictator," said Parlade.

Parlade hopes that change will come, and he hopes a more open approach will facilitate it.

"Time will tell. Time for a new approach. Regime change and all of that, that hasn't worked. The hard tactics haven't worked," said Parlade. "Maybe this will. You never know."
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