By Shirin Rajaee

WINTERS (CBS13) – Rafael Galiano, of Winters, was headed to Cuba. He even landed in Havanna, but didn’t make it past the airport.

Cuban authorities refused to let him step onto Cuban soil – and after interrogating him, sent him back to the United States.

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Galiano was born in Cuba, and it’s been a dream of his to go back to his homeland after 46 years.

He and his family fled the country 10 years after the Revolution in 1969, when he was just two-years-old.

“I felt so low and couldn’t believe I was standing in Havana Airport and wasn’t going to be able to walk outside and touch the ground,” said Galiano.

Galiano’s purpose was to go meet some of his family and visit the country of his birth.

But Saturday morning, just hours after Cuban leader Fidel Castro died, Galiano and his partner John landed at Havanna airport trying to make their way through customs at a tense time for the country.

“Rafael went ahead of me and then they had him step aside,” said John Martin.

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Galiano was immediately stopped by airport authorities as soon as they noticed he was Cuban-born.

“The airline that sold me the tickets and issued the visa didn’t tell me I had to have a special Cuban visa,” he said.

Since Galiano was born in Cuba, he was told he needed a special visa with approval from the Cuban embassy. And so for nearly 6 hours he says he was interrogated.

“I had a lot of fear at that moment, because by the way they were questioning me and acting it didn’t seem like they were asking normal immigration questions,” he said.

Galiano adds, “perhaps they were suspicious of why I was going because I’m an ex-patriot.”

Now he and his partner own a beautiful 10-acre resort in Winters, Park Winters. They had high hopes to start a similar business in Cuba. And they said they may just do that some day.

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Galiano says he’s not going to give up on Cuba. He does want to plan another trip, but this under better circumstances and with that special visa.