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Memphis Cuban-American business owner shares tearful story after Fidel Castro’s death

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Since news broke on Friday that Cuba's Fidel Castro died, Cuban-Americans have taken to the streets to celebrate.

Many of the gatherings have taken place in South Florida where many Cuban families settled after fleeing the country.

On Sunday night, the streets in Memphis were nothing like the celebrations seen in Florida, but that does not mean Cuban-Americans in the Mid-South didn't have stories to tell.

"She never was agreeing with the system because of it was hard for the people to get the basics for the family and the oppression in the system," Pedro Pena translated for his wife, Marialys Gonzalez.

Gonzalez is a Cuban-American business owner living in Memphis.

She recalled life living under the dictator to WREG's Michael Quander.

Castro ruled Cuba for nearly 50 years and was known as a tyrant who imprisoned critics and abused human rights.

"Normally, they didn't expect to see the other parents again. It's very, very hard for the family," Pena said.

Gonzalez said her family was torn apart as thousands of Cubans fled the communist country seeking freedom in the states. The pain of the separation still has her breaking down in tears years later.

"She was not able to see her grandmother when she died. Her grandmother was here in Florida and she was in Cuba," Pena translated for Gonzalez.

Despite Castro's death, Gonzalez said she doesn't see herself moving back home anytime soon. She fears things will remain the same under the current rule or get worse.

"His brother is probably worse than Fidel Castro. So, the system will continue," Pena told WREG.

The restaurant owner hopes people living in the Mid-South will take something from her story and what she and her people have been through.

"Sometimes people don't understand what they -- what they have: Freedom," Pena translated for Gonzalez.