Plasencia, who spoke mostly in Spanish, was accompanied by her U.S.-born daughter Gabriella, who helped with translation.
"I don’t want to get my hopes up because I am disappointed,” she said. “Before I can believe in what Obama is doing, I have to see political change in Cuba."
Plasencia, who fled Cuba on a raft made of tires, said she has no plans to travel back following news of the loosened embargo. "I miss my country and I want to go back. But not as long as Castro is there," she said.
Plasencia's 19-year-old daughter Gabriella appeared less jaded than her mother. "I felt a sense of happiness for family members who were posting about the news on Facebook. But I know change won't happen overnight," she said.
Like Plasencia, Ignacio Alfonso also has concerns with the decision to restore relations with Cuba. The 51-year-old co-owner of El Artesano said that the Cuban government should have been required to make certain political concessions before the U.S. moved ahead with its decision to renew diplomatic ties.
"The first step is to discuss human rights, political prisoners, and free elections. Then we can talk about diplomatic relations," he said.
A few blocks down from El Artesano, Ruben Trujillo was enjoying his routine cup of coffee at Rancho restaurant. The 49-year-old welder said he was pleased with the announcement. "This is good news. I don't support Castro ... but we want this embargo gone so opportunities can come to Cuba. This will lead to democratic reforms."