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  1. Transportation

West Tampa Sandwich Shop weighs in on flight to Havana

On the day that the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a Southwest Airlines daily service from Tampa to Havana, diners at the West Tampa Sandwich Shop on North Armenia Avenue talked Cuba travel and how the new regular airline service might change both the island and attitudes here.

CHRISTOPHER O DONNELL | Times

Yvette Gonzalez

CHRISTOPHER O DONNELL | Times

Yvette Gonzalez

Yvette Gonzalez, 45, a West Tampa paralegal whose parents were born in Cuba.

"I have mixed feelings. I would love to go and see my heritage and where my family is from but I don't want to support the government. My parents came (from Cuba) with whatever they could grab."

RELATED: Tourism ban withers as commercial flights to Cuba resume

Ada Mijares Gregg, a Pinellas realtor born in Cuba who came to the United States as a child in 1960 and has never been back.

"I would like to see where I went to school, the city. Everyone is curious and wants to see what is happening over there. "

CHRISTOPHER O DONNELL | Times

Michael Sierra

CHRISTOPHER O DONNELL | Times

Michael Sierra

Michael Sierra, West Tampa attorney and collectible car dealer who has visited Cuba three times scouting for vintage cars.

"I'm delighted. This is the only thing (President Barack) Obama has done that I've agreed with....I've toured the island before. It's beautiful. I will probably go again I just don't know how soon."

RELATED: DOT says Southwest Airlines will connect Tampa to Havana daily

CHRISTOPHER O DONNELL | Times

Rafael Castro

CHRISTOPHER O DONNELL | Times

Rafael Castro

Rafael Castro, 43, a chief financial officer for a real estate company, who visited Cuba from his native Puerto Rico in 1991.

"I think this is a good thing for both sides. Now you have the chance to live it and breathe it yourself. As a Puerto Rican, I feel a connection. 'Cuba and Puerto Rico are two wings of the same bird,'" he said, quoting Puerto Rican poet Lola Rodríguez de Tió.

CHRISTOPHER O DONNELL | Times

Dario Diaz

CHRISTOPHER O DONNELL | Times

Dario Diaz

Dario Diaz, a West Tampa attorney who was critical of former Mayor Dick Greco for his 2002 visit to Cuba but now feels the embargo has failed.

"It's forbidden fruit; people want to see what has been closed to them for the last 60 years. More Americans will see what Cuba is really about. They will see the true damage that socialism and communism does."

RELATED: Tampa's charter flights to Cuba could suffer from new commercial flights

CHRISTOPHER O DONNELL | Times

Denell Perez Sequeira

CHRISTOPHER O DONNELL | Times

Denell Perez Sequeira

Denell Perez Sequeira, 50, a paralegal whose son's father's family is from Cuba.

"That's part of my son's heritage. "He's been there. I would like to experience that with him. But I'm very conflicted about a trip, spending money and giving it to the regime."

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