TAMPA, Fla. - In 2016 in Cuba, the Tampa Bay Rays played baseball against a Cuban team with President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro in attendance.
Tampa resident Mario Nunez traveled to the game and remembers the hope it brought to Cuban people in and outside of the country.
"I’ve never seen a more hopeful group of people," says Nunez, the grandson of Cuban cigar workers of immigrated to Tampa. "There was love everywhere."
Back then, Nunez believed the decades-old Cuban embargo would soon end, but his view now is much different.
"The embargo, you can’t lift it today," says Nunez. "If you lift the embargo today, it's like giving a man dying of thirst a gallon of water. He’s going to drink that gallon and kill himself. It’s just too much at one time."
At Jose Marti Park in Ybor City, Victor Rudy DiMaio, a Cuban American and Democratic activist says the current political climate surrounding Cuba is as complicated as ever.
"Cuba is not simple. It’s not easy," he says.
"We can jump up and down and scream and protest and all the things we want to do," says DiMaio, "Because God forbid, we invade Cuba and we end up fighting a proxy war with Russia and China.
The present climate is a far cry from just five years ago when a baseball game seemed to signal a new age for Cuba.