A pair of wrinkled hands are proof of a long fight in escaping a regime.
“11 years in an inferno. In hell," said Oscar Rodriguez, a Cuban exile.
For 11 years in 1960s he attempted to leave Cuba. That’s why as president of non-profit Casa Cuba. He started an initiative to send donations to the border. From clothing, to toiletries to non-perishables.
“I think they are in worse conditions because they are like in a limbo," said Lydia Gonzalez, who also escaped the communist regime.
Right now around 150 Cubans are stuck there. Their trip to the U.S. cut short. To pay for the months-long journey most sold their homes and every belonging.
“I feel so bad," said Gonzalez. "I feel so bad.”
Despite feeling bad she said she’s supportive of ending the wet foot, dry foot policy.
“It’s not a free country like come and come and come. No, you need to have your law," Gonzalez said.
The policy has long angered a number of politicians who say some Cuban immigrants abused the law by getting American residency not for political escape but for economic betterment.
“We don’t care about the Republicans or Democrats in this situation. We just care about the people," said Rodriguez.
He insists he’s staying neutral in this debate, but is speaking out for the community’s help.
“They are over there without hope, so we have to give a little bit to them," Rodriguez said.
Casa Cuba reopens Saturday, Jan. 21, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 2506 W. Curtis St. in Tampa.