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Cuban-American living in Helena filled with joy over decision

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Jorge Quintana

Jorge Quintana

HELENA – A Cuban-American man living in Helena was overcome with joy Wednesday by President Barack Obama’s announcement that the U.S. is re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.

“I’m in tears,” Jorge Quintana said. “What do you do when your dreams come true?”

He called Wednesday a historic day.

“I hope both countries can move forward and put the interest of all Cubans – the Cubans over there and the Cubans over here at the forefront of foreign policy,” Quintana said. “The history between Cubans and the United States has been 100 years of misery. Today the past ends.”

Quintana, the chief legal counsel for Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, said his mother left Cuba to come to the United States in 1964 and he was born nine and one-half months later. Quintana, who turns 50 in January, visited Cuba for the first time in November 2013 and met his first cousins.

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“When I was born, my grandfather in Cuba sent me a telegram that said. ‘Congratulations, I’ll see you soon,’ " Quintana said.

He added sadly, “That meeting finally happened in 2013 – when I went to his crypt.”

His mother’s entire side of the family was in Cuba until recently, Quintana said.

“Any steps toward normalcy can only help our goal of establishing democracy in Cuba,” he said. “I support this 100 percent.”

Quintana also is the Democratic national committeeman for Montana, representing the state party at the Democratic National Committee. He said he and others worked to put support for normalization of relations with Cuba in the 2013 state Democratic Party platform and worked on the issue at the national party convention, too.

Quintana, who was raised in New York City, spent a summer in the Crazy Mountains here working on a paleontology project and fell in love with Montana.

He and his future wife moved to Montana in 1995. He later graduated from law school at the University of Montana. They have a daughter.

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