TAMPA (FOX 13) - As President Obama wrapped up his historic visit to Cuba Tuesday, not everyone celebrated the trip to the communist island nation.
Many Cuban-Americans said they were against a sitting U.S. President meeting with Cuban leader Raul Castro.
Danny Alvarez, an attorney in Tampa, said his family feared for their lives when they fled Cuba more than 50 years ago.
"The Castro government actually tried to assassinate my grandfather," said Alvarez. "My parents escaped Communist Cuba, where they literally had everything stolen from them at gunpoint. So the very same people that we are standing next to - that our President of the United States is standing next to - that's the same guy who ordered those men to put guns to my family's head."
Alvarez told FOX 13 News, as President Obama traveled to Cuba, he received reports from friends that violence continued. Alvarez even posted on his Facebook page a series of photographs that he said shows the moments a pastor who he knows well was beaten because he's a dissident.
"They beat him up so bad and they beat up his wife so bad because they think differently than the government," he said.
Ralph Fernandez, another Tampa attorney who is an advocate for Cuban-Americans in the Bay Area, said not much has changed in Cuba since the U.S. began normalizing relations last year.
"While tourism dollars have gone there, very little has filtered down to the people itself. It's still an apartheid nation and everything evil you can think of is still taking place," Fernandez said. "Until the Castros are dead... nothing will truly change in Cuba."
Obama traveled with a delegation that included Tampa U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, who spoke to FOX 13 News by phone.
Castor said changes can't happen without a big step like this.
"We have tried isolation and an embargo for over 50 years and it hasn't worked," she said. "We all want the same thing. I think we understand that we want our neighbors in Cuba to have better lives and better economic opportunities and not have to worry about what they say about the government in public."
Alvarez is skeptical, but hopeful.
"If President Obama wants this to be his legacy, either do it all the way or don't do it at all," he said.
For him, that means force enough changes so Cuban families like his won't feel like they have to flee for their lives.