'Life Is Hell': Some Cuban-Americans Wary as Commercial Flights Begin

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HAVANA, CUBA, FEBRUARY 15, 2014 : Appearances of Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara in popular culture are common. Here on the walls of Havana.
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Click on the 'Listen' button above to hear this interview.

Today, JetBlue Flight 387 took off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and touched down in Santa Clara, Cuba. It was the first regularly scheduled commercial flight from the U.S. to the country since 1961. And other airlines are also in line to begin regular service, including Silver Airways, Frontier, and Southwest.

But it's not necessarily a cause for celebration among all Cubans and Cuban Americans.

Carlos Eire left Cuba without his parents at the age of 11 in 1962 as one of the 14,000 Cuban children airlifted to the U.S. by Operation Peter Pan. Nowadays he's a professor at Yale University and author of "Waiting for Snow in Havana," which won the national book award in 2003.

He doesn't believe that opening relations with Cuba has been a good thing.

"Things have become worse for Cubans since December 17, 2014, when the change in policy was announced," he says. "I'm not very happy about this."

Eire argues that since the Cuban military controls the tourism industry, things won't get better for Cuban business owners and entrepreneurs, or everyday people. 

"Every dollar, every euro that a tourist spends in Cuba goes straight into the pockets of the military junta that runs the place," he says. "The money does not trickle down."

According to Eire, it's a "fallacy" that an American presence will change things for Cubans, adding that repression has increased since relations between the U.S. and Cuba opened up.

Click on the 'Listen' button above to hear our full conversation with Carlos Eire.