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By: Alberto Vasallo, III

Admittedly so, I was very skeptical at first with Obama’s new approach and policy. However, my President (Obama) has given me renewed optimism about a free and democratic Cuba, the ultimate end game for Cubans in exile, like my dad and many others.

The process may be a little slower than we wanted, but change is coming and I must give enormous kudos and credit to President Obama.

Make no mistake about it, this current Cuban regime is NOT about making any changes, and no real change in terms of basic human rights (like freedom of expression) have yet to be implemented (as a matter of fact a crack down on dissidents is higher than ever), BUT Obama is winning over the people of Cuba and planting the seeds for very real changes that I now believe have a greater chance of happening than ever before in my lifetime.

President Obama’s speech made me very emotional today and gave me goose bumps, as I witnessed one of the greatest communicators ever, put it all into perspective. A person should always be able to admit his or her mistakes, and today I openly admit that I may have been wrong in initially being so skeptical to this new approach.

I am not a critic of the embargo or those who for years have supported it. I will forever respect and admire the Cuban exile community who had EVERYTHING taken away by an evil and failed system (Communism), and no one can blame them for being so adamant about not legitimizing the Castro regime for the past 60 years. But today, President Obama combined pointed words, diplomacy, humor – and even a reference to ropa vieja AND Pitbull – to deliver his message.

So, yes, I am much more optimistic and hopeful for significant changes. Thank you President Obama – what turned out to be one of my biggest differences with you, has turned into one of the most powerful, emotional and hopeful moments for me as a Cuban-American.

And, yes, today has been a good day. Gracias Presidente Obama – you showed the entire world what being “Presidential” is all about. I tip my cap to you.

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Alberto Vasallo, III is President and CEO of El Mundo Media.  He is also the host and producer of Urban Update and Revista Hispana on Channel 7, NBC.

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