UNION CITY - Wednesday marked the 113th anniversary of Cuba's independence from Spain.
As Cuban Americans in Union City celebrated Cuba's Independence Day, many could not help but to reflect on the relationship between their home country and the United States.
Union City resident Carmen Machado came to the United States in 1966, when she was just 4 years old. She has not been back to Cuba since, and says she won't ever go as long as it is a communist nation.
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"I have always stood firm in the belief that until Fidel Castro and the communists are out of Cuba, I will not be going back to support their regime," she says.
That regime remains a major point of criticism as international relations between the United States and Cuba thaw.
While speaking on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Sen. Robert Menendez said he remains skeptical that anything will change in Cuba.
"I have deep concerns that the more these talks progress, the more this administration continues to entertain unilateral concessions without in return getting agreement on fundamental issues that are in our national interest and those of the Cuban people," the senator said.
However, not everyone remains as skeptical.
Union City Councilman Tilo Rivas says, "We are celebrating Cuba because freedom is near. Freedom is approaching quickly. So please keep the hope. Let's continue together, let's continue fighting."
Lawmakers in Washington are expected to discuss opening embassies in Cuba.