Waiting for my 2:30 p.m. charter flight from JFK to Havana—aboard the somewhat unnervingly named Xtra Airways—I consider the small flock of mottled facts that are the sum total of everything I know about Cuba.

It is shaped like a crocodile. It is even called, sometimes, El Cocodrilo. Christopher Columbus landed there in 1492, and is reported to have named it the most beautiful place on earth. The year I graduated from college, a Cuban boy named Elián floated to the Miami shore on a black rubber inner tube and was eventually sent back. Cuba is a Communist dictatorship led by Fidel Castro from 1959, when he and Che Guevara overthrew the corrupt puppet government of Fulgencio Batista; it’s now run by Fidel’s brother Raúl. Hemingway lived in Havana. So did Lucky Luciano and sometimes Meyer Lansky. The U.S. has sustained a diplomatic and trade embargo against the crocodile island for 55 years. But in December 2014, President Obama restored relations, and in July, JetBlue began offering direct flights—albeit serviced by Xtra Airways.

Most immediately material to me, word has been drifting off the island of lovely little restaurants competing for the tourist dollar. This is as surprising as the reopening of the American embassy. Although Cuba is a fertile tropical place, post-revolution shortages and rationing and complicated bureaucracy have, in combination, earned it a reputation for some of the worst food in the world. Putting it plainly is author and artist Gary Indiana, who has lived part-time in Cuba for seventeen years: “The food is terrible,” he tells me, “and anyone who says otherwise hasn’t been there.” For decades, he explains (and I read, on my three-hour flight), ingredients were canned, processed, powdered, frozen . . . or simply missing...

Recent Articles

Date Title
1/29/16 PAC Favoring Ties With Cuba Raised $350,000 in Past Six Months, Will Spend on House, Senate Races
Byron Tau, WSJ
1/29/16 The American Invasion of Cuba
Ellen Garmerman and Kelly Crow, WSJ
1/29/16 Among Cuban-American Business Leaders, Divided Views On Way Forward
Desmond Boylan, AP
1/29/16 Peeling the Onion: U.S.-Cuba Economic Normalization
Margaret Crahan, The Huffington Post
1/29/16 After unusual weather, Cuba struggles to save prized tobacco crop
1/29/16 'Car Talk' In Cuba: How Those Classic American Cars Survived The Embargo
1/28/16 Cuba's Irreversible Internet
Emily Parket, The Huffington Post
1/28/16 New Cuba regulations provide more ‘wiggle room’ for U.S. businesses
Mimi Whitefield, The Miami Herald
1/27/16 Current Record
1/27/16 New U.S. rules allow infrastructure projects, movie shoots in Cuba
1/27/16 So You Want to Visit Cuba 'Before It's Ruined'?
Tomas Bilbao, The Huffington Post
1/27/16 The Immediate Risks of Cuba's Opening
1/26/16 Surge of Americans tests limits of Cuba's tourism industry
Jaime Hamre, Reuters
1/26/16 Why the U.S. Should Embrace the Rise of Cuba's Entrepreneurs
Ted Henken, The Huffington Post
1/26/16 Cuba still wary of U.S. telecom and Internet offers
Mimi Whitefield, The Miami Herald
1/25/16 Marco Rubio's Cold War
Mary Jordan, The Washington Post
1/22/16 Cuban officials say they have held 2 days of talks with their US counterparts about telecommunications and the Internet
1/22/16 "House of Lies" makes history with shoot in Cuba
CBS News
1/22/16 Marco Rubio: Obama not doing enough to stop Cuba migrant crisis
Tal Kopan, CNN
1/21/16 Coast Guard: Migrants Fleeing Cuba Increasingly Violent
1/21/16 In a reversal, Cuba tries price controls to tame food inflation
1/21/16 Miami-Dade County leaders oppose Cuban consulate in Miami
Michael Vasquez, The Miami Herald
1/21/16 Pemex exploring compressed gas supply to Cuba
1/20/16 German firm acquires Seattle-based Clipper, plans new routes
1/20/16 Rep. Diaz-Balart pushes Cuba to free dissident journalist on hunger strike
James Rosen, The Miami Herald
1/19/16 Cuba's Raul Castro to visit France on Feb. 1
1/19/16 Miami readies a fight over Cuban consulate
Douglas Hanks, The Miami Herald
1/19/16 22-year-old Cuban-American woman could be the next Einstein, says Harvard
Vittorio Hernandez, IBT
1/17/16 U.S.-Cuba commercial flights on the horizon
Mimi Whitefield, The Miami Herald
1/17/16 In GOP, Emmer takes the lead on Cuba
Allison Sherry, Star Tribune
1/15/16 Cuba prevails in Havana Club rum dispute with Bacardi
Mimi Whitefield, The Miami Herald
1/15/16 Mexico and Cuba considering joint natural gas project -minister
1/15/16 FCC to allow U.S. telecom services to Cuba
Roger Yu, USA Today
1/15/16 U.S. Coast Guard repatriates 169 Cuban migrants
Joey Flechas, The Miami Herald
1/15/16 Lift Cuba embargo while the window remains open
Star Tribune, Editorial Board
1/14/16 Cruise lines still awaiting OK from Cuba to begin trips with U.S. departures
Mimi Whitefield, The Miami Herald
1/14/16 Cuba to attend security conference with U.S. for first time
Ben Fox, AP
1/14/16 Plan For Cuba Ferry Terminal Reveals Shift In Miami Politics
Greg Allen, NPR
1/14/16 Facing possible Cuban immigrant influx, Miami-Dade schools ask for federal funding
Christina Veiga, The Miami Herald
1/13/16 First group of stranded Cuban migrants leaves Costa Rica
1/13/16 President Obama calls for lifting Cuban embargo in State of the Union
Carlos Barria, Reuters
1/13/16 Mexico to grant transit visas to Cuban migrants
1/13/16 Setting sail for Cuba
Mimi Whitefield, The Miami Herald
1/13/16 U.S.-backed music festival headed to Cuba
Alan Gomez, USA Today
1/12/16 Unilever returns to Cuba in joint venture with state
1/12/16 Miami Medicare fraud fugitive returns from Cuba — voluntarily
Jay Weaver, The Miami Herald
1/11/16 In Cuba, Cash Trickles In for Budding Capitalists
Dudley Althaus and Jose de Cordoba, The Wall Street Journal
1/11/16 U.S. mulls ending program that urges Cuban doctors to defect
1/11/16 U.S.-Cuba relations: Plenty to work on in 2016
Mimi Whitefield, The Miami Herald
1/11/16 China's financial backing keeps Cuban port's expansion on track
1/8/16 Miami-Dade mayor plays down idea of Cuba ferry plans
Douglas Hanks, The Miami Herald
1/8/16 Dummy Hellfire missile mistakenly shipped to Cuba
1/8/16 Fates of 53 Cuban Dissidents Show Difficulty of US Policy
1/7/16 Showtime’s ‘House of Lies’ To Be First U.S. Scripted Show Filmed in Cuba
Whitney Friedlander, Variety
1/7/16 First Cuban migrant flight to leave Costa Rica next week
1/7/16 36 Hours in Havana
Damien Cave, The New York Times
1/7/16 Miami-Dade pursuing ferry service to Cuba from PortMiami
David Smiley and Douglas Hanks, The Miami Herald
1/6/16 McAuliffe, in Havana, says Obama ‘should come and will come visit Cuba’
Laura Vozzella, The Washington Post
1/6/16 Mexican Senate calls for free-trade agreement with Cuba
1/6/16 Cuba May Use Middlemen for Flights to U.S.
Lenore T. Adkins, Bloomberg BNA
1/5/16 Five freed in US-Cuba rapprochement back in custody: rights group
1/5/16 Meet Cuba’s Amateur Boxers
Lucia De Stefani, Time
1/5/16 Virginia and Cuba to sign port agreement, look to expand trade
1/5/16 The Deadly Kiss of Price Controls on Cuban Consumers
Yoani Sanchez, The Huffington Post
1/2/16 White House: decision on Obama Cuba trip in next couple months
Jeff Mason, Reuters