MIAMI — For two consecutive years, Stephanie Várcia, 11, a sixth grader here, has done something that was unimaginable five years ago. She has spent four weeks in Havana, playing hide-and-seek with her cousins and going to the beach with her aunts and uncles. When summer vacation ended, her mother flew out to bring her back to Miami.
Stephanie’s stay in Cuba — an increasingly common ritual among families that now includes trips to the island by unaccompanied minors — is an emblem of the profound transformation in the relationship between Cuban-Americans in South Florida and Cubans in Cuba. Her vacation signals more than just a thaw in the bitter 50-year freeze between Cuba and the United States. It is an acknowledgment, in many respects, that the passage of time and the yearning for family have begun to overcome the caustic political stalemate that followed Fidel Castro’s Communist revolution in 1959. Although South Florida Congressional members still support a hard line on Cuba, a position that plays well with older voters (the ones likeliest to vote), a majority of Cuban-Americans here have softened their attitudes. Many of them prefer to see more contact with people in Cuba, not less.