Cuban-born central Ohioans react to President’s historic visit

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba is exciting news to some in Central Ohio.

Jose Luis Mas was born in Cuba. He and his family fled the country in May 1961 and moved to America.

“It’s so thrilling and moving, regardless of your sentiments of the propriety of going back or opening relations,” said Mas from his Worthington home.

Jose, or Joe as he is known here in Columbus, visited Cuba with his wife Linda three weeks ago. They took a group of seminary students to tour the churches on the island.

During his visit Jose said he took the time to talk to people in government, students and others about President Obama’s visit. He described their reaction as happy and surprised.

“They knew that this meant the subject of improving the condition of the people on the island would be on the table, “said Mas.

Art consultant Michael Reese is also watching President Obama’s visit with anticipation.  Reese began traveling to Cuba a few years ago, taking a group of people to study the country’s art and architecture.

He returns to Columbus with new art to display and share with friends.

“The art that is being created when you have no supplies, when you have no materials,” said Reese.

Reese said the Cuban people are resourceful, talented and looking for a way to profit from their talents. But the embargo and Cuban government won’t allow for new investments into the communist nation.

Reese said the best way for people to support Cubans is to visit now.

“If they could end the embargo and allow resources to make it happen, to lift them even higher,” said Reese. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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