Recent Articles

January 2019
Miami, FL - The Cuba Study Group announced today that Ricardo Herrero has been named executive director of the non-profit devoted to supporting economic growth and civil society development in Cuba, and stronger ties with its diaspora in the United States and abroad. Herrero will be based in Washington D.C. and will replace Andrew Otazo, who has served as the organization’s executive director since 2016 and is stepping down to pursue other endeavors. Herrero is a strategic communications and public affairs professional with nearly two decades of experience working at the intersection of foreign affairs, politics, media and philanthropy. From 2012 through 2017, he led two successful advocacy efforts to promote diplomatic and economic ties between the United States and Cuba – the first as deputy executive director of the Cuba Study Group and the second as the co-founder and executive director of the national #CubaNow campaign. Herrero is considered one of the leading Cuban-American voices in favor of meaningful U.S.-Cuba engagement and was recognized by the Obama Administration for his pivotal work shaping public support for the former president's efforts to normalize relations with Havana. “Ricardo brings an unparalleled wealth of experience, knowledge and relationships from across the spectrum of U.S.-Cuba relations,” said Cuba Study Group Chairman Carlos Saladrigas. “His strategic approach to advocacy and ability to manage programs in multi-stakeholder environments has enriched our work since he first joined our organization as a Young Professional member in 2007. Having him serve as executive director will ensure that the Cuba Study Group remains a powerful bridge across thought-leadership circles in Washington D.C., Miami and Havana.” “The Cuba Study Group has an established legacy of thoughtful and steadfast advocacy for the rights of Cubans at home and the diaspora to determine their own futures,” said Herrero. “As executive director, I will build on that legacy by championing policies on both sides of the Florida Straits that enable sustainable economic growth and respect for human rights in Cuba, and foster greater engagement between the people of our two nations.” .
December 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Ric Herrero Cell: 917-796-1058 The Executive Director of the Cuba Study Group, Andrew Otazo, issued the following statement in response to the news the Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation have reached an agreement to allow Cuban baseball players to sign directly with U.S. teams without the need to defect from their country. “This is a significant win for the Cuban people, and particularly for Cuban baseball players, their families and communities, all of whom stand to benefit greatly from the ability of Cuban athletes to play in the Major Leagues without having to abandon their homes. Any collateral benefit to the Cuban government as a result of this deal is offset by the creation of a safe and legal process for Cuban baseball players to pursue careers in the North American Major League system without imperiling their lives at the hands of smugglers and criminal organizations. Furthermore, this development will also do much to drive the internal debate in Cuba over private wealth creation and its indispensable role in fueling long-term growth and prosperity.” .
October 2018
The White House plan to turn up the pressure on Cuba for its role in what a senior administration official on Wednesday said was its efforts to subvert democracy in Venezuela and propping up President Nicolás Maduro. The senior administration official said Maduro would be out of power if it wasn’t for the Cuban intelligence operatives who help him control restless Venezuelans and block efforts to replace him.
Cuba’s Miguel Díaz-Canel, who this week became the latest world leader to open a Twitter account, had accumulated more than 25,800 followers by Friday afternoon and spawned a few copycat accounts with similar Twitter handles.
On his first trip to the United States wearing the banner as president of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel declared at the U.N. General Assembly last week that he was not a reformer. Yet in various other settings, the island’s appointed leader offered a more fluid image of his style of leadership.
With the U.S. clinical trial of an innovative lung cancer drug developed in Cuba showing positive preliminary results, Buffalo-based Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and Havana’s Center for Molecular Immunology have embarked on a biotech joint venture designed to bring four promising Cuban cancer drugs to U.S. patients.
September 2018
This week's meeting of the United Nations General Assembly marked the first time in nearly 60 years that Cuba's delegation was led by someone not named Castro. But the communist island's new president stuck to the same old script when he delivered his first address on Wednesday.
Cuba’s recently appointed President Miguel Díaz-Canel met with technology and other company executives and U.S. Congress members in New York City after his inaugural appearance at the United Nations. At the meeting held at Google offices in New York Monday afternoon, Díaz-Canel spoke with representatives from Twitter, Microsoft, VaynerMedia, Connectify, Mapbox, Virgin Group, Airbnb, Revolution, Udacity and Bloomberg.
U.S. and Cuban research institutes said on Wednesday they were creating the first joint U.S.-Cuban biotech venture, to be headquartered in Cuba to bring new cancer therapies to U.S. patients. The Innovative Immunotherapy Alliance SA is the fruit of a three-year partnership between the Roswell Park Cancer Institute of Buffalo, New York and Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology begun following the historic 2014 U.S.-Cuban detente.
Cuba’s handpicked President Miguel Díaz-Canel began his first appearance at the United Nations lauding “blood ties” between Cuba and Africa at a session dedicated to peace and to pay homage to the late South African leader Nelson Mandela.
Cuba’s new president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, arrived in New York on Sunday for his first trip to the United States, where he will denounce the decades-old U.S. trade embargo on his country at the U.N. General Assembly, state-run media reported.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel met U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who is on a trip to Havana to discuss tense bilateral relations and other “matters of common interest”, state-run media reported on Thursday.
Rather, the agents’ visits had another purpose in mind: to send a clear message to Cuba that the FBI is still watching Cuban spies who might be infiltrating the United States — and that they aren’t just paying attention to Russian threats, said the sources, who are not authorized to speak publicly. The FBI is not targeting the Cuban exiles themselves, but using the expected publicity surrounding the visits to long-time advocates of normalizing relations with Cuba — who might themselves have contacts with Cuban diplomats — to get the message out to the Cuban government.

Cuba’s Stalled Revolution

September 20, 2018

For Cuba, 2018 marks the end of an era. For the first time in almost six decades, the country’s president is no longer a Castro—neither the late guerilla fighter, revolutionary caudillo, and international icon Fidel, nor his lower-profile brother Raúl, who succeeded Fidel as president in 2008. This April, the mantle was instead passed to former vice-president Miguel Díaz-Canel, a younger post-revolutionary politician who raised paradoxical hopes of both continuity and change.
Cuba's new leader has denied his country had any involvement in "sonic" attacks against US diplomats in the country. President Miguel Diaz-Canel told Telesur, a Venezuela-based media network, that Cuba has not "attacked anyone," or violated the rights of any diplomat. "(The United States) have started threatening again. They've started to impose, and in the middle of all this they have created this fallacy, this defamatory story of alleged 'acoustic' incidents," Diaz said in his first interview as president.
Cuba’s ambassador to the United States says the ball is now in the U.S. court to present evidence that deliberate attacks caused the mysterious health symptoms reported by American diplomats in Havana. “In this case you have the conclusion without introducing the evidence,” José Ramón Cabañas, the Cuban ambassador in Washington, said in an interview with the Miami Herald. “They are the ones who have to demonstrate what happened. We are the ones asking.”
Cuba’s recently appointed President Miguel Díaz-Canel is expected to lead the island’s official delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations, which is scheduled to take place at the end of the month in New York. The visit has not yet been officially announced but Cuba’s ambassador in Washington, José Ramón Cabañas, confirmed that Díaz-Canel is coming to the U.S. His public schedule will not be released at this point due to security reasons, Cabañas added.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in his first interview since taking office in April his government could not talk with U.S. President Donald Trump as long as Trump’s administration kept its “abnormal” attitude toward the Communist-run island. “We want to dialogue but it must be as equals,” Diaz-Canel said in the wide-ranging interview with Venezuela-based television station Telesur broadcast on Sunday evening, echoing his predecessor and mentor, Raul Castro. “We do not accept impositions and we are not willing to make concessions,” he said.
“We don’t doubt that the diplomats were sick. As a doctor I would never deny that these people were feeling ill,” Dr. Mitchell Joseph Valdés Sosa, head of the Neuroscience Center of Cuba, said at a Thursday night press conference at the Cuban Embassy after a day of meetings. But he said there could be many reasons for their symptoms, including pre-existing conditions, psychological factors and other underlying causes that need more study before they can be eliminated. Cuban scientists, he said, have seen no credible evidence from the scarce information shared with them that some mysterious high-tech weapon was used against the diplomats.
U.S. and Cuban officials will meet later today in an effort to determine the method and motive behind mystery incidents in Havana that have injured American diplomats. The meeting comes amid widespread frustration among national security agencies and in Congress at the lack of answers about what the U.S. describes as "health attacks" that began nearly two years ago and affected some two dozen people, including some diagnosed with brain damage. It also comes amid a flurry of reports suggesting investigators have narrowed their suspicions as to the cause and culprit.
A proposed reform of the Cuban constitution would shape the island’s future for years, but Cubans appear to be more interested in debating gay marriage than a multiparty system. No other clause in the proposal has stirred so much criticism, from Catholic and Evangelical church leaders to common workers who take part in debates organized by the government, many expressing concern for the definition of marriage simply as “the union of two people.”
At least five Cuban-Americans in Miami, including Dr. Ruiz, who have opposed a trade embargo with Cuba and promoted better relations with the communist government in Havana, said they received surprise visits in the past week from federal agents. The law enforcement representatives were vague about their intentions, gave only their first names, and asked questions that seemed intended to learn about contacts with Cuban diplomats, Dr. Ruiz said.
Intelligence agencies investigating mysterious "attacks" that led to brain injuries in U.S. personnel in Cuba and China consider Russia to be the main suspect, three U.S. officials and two others briefed on the investigation tell NBC News. The suspicion that Russia is likely behind the alleged attacks is backed up by evidence from communications intercepts, known in the spy world as signals intelligence, amassed during a lengthy and ongoing investigation involving the FBI, the CIA and other U.S. agencies. The officials declined to elaborate on the nature of the intelligence.
Cuba’s street vendors are bringing back the pregon, the art of singing humorous, rhyming ditties with double entendres about the goods they are selling, with some modernizing the tradition by setting their tunes to reggaeton.
“The alleged attacks occurred when relations between our countries were at their best point in over half a century. Raúl Castro (bet) his entire legacy on normalizing diplomatic relations with the United States” said Ric Herrero, policy director of the Cuba Study Group. “It makes no sense for the Cuba government, which Raúl still oversees as First Secretary of the Communist Party, to undermine its own efforts to normalize trade and diplomatic relations with the U.S., especially when its top benefactor, Venezuela, is on the verge of total collapse,” Herrero added.
Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, who in 1999 became the first U.S. governor to visit Cuba since the revolution, is book-ending that trip with a return to the island this week. At the invitation of the Cuban government, Ryan will be leading a group of 21 that also includes Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls; Roger Claar, the mayor of Bolingbrook, IL, and assorted other friends and associates of Ryan.
The Cuba Study Group is deeply concerned that U.S. Intelligence agencies consider Moscow to be the prime suspect behind health incidents affecting U.S. diplomatic personnel in Cuba and China. These allegations are consistent with a troubling pattern of behavior by Russian leaders to expand their sphere of influence on the global stage by actively undermining U.S. interests.
The first lawsuits in a fiery Cuban air crash that killed 112 people have been filed in circuit court in Chicago on behalf of the families of three passengers who lost their lives.
The Associated Press has obtained a recording of what some U.S. embassy workers heard in Havana as they were attacked by what investigators initially believed was a sonic weapon.
A series of attacks with a microwave weapon is the latest theory for what could have sickened or distressed roughly two dozen people associated with the U.S. Embassy in Cuba over the past two years. The alleged attacks dominated a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on Cuba policy Thursday afternoon. But a panel of State Department officials said there is still no explanation for the reported injuries.
A communications breakdown within the State Department delayed by more than half a year the creation of a special panel to assess the response to mysterious health "attacks" on U.S. diplomats that led to brain injury, according to a report from congressional investigators obtained by NBC News. The Government Accountability Office report, which has not been publicly released, determined that the unit of the State Department responsible for setting up the special panel first learned of the incidents from reports in the media in August 2017.
A Cuban government investigator looking into reports of mysterious acoustic attacks on US and Canadian diplomats on the communist-run island on Monday dismissed a US government theory that microwave weapons emitting concentrated beams of radiation may have been used in the incidents.
The "health attacks" on American personnel in Cuba have perplexed U.S. investigators and medical teams for months now -- but despite recent reports that researchers are focused on microwaves, there is still no "prime suspect," the doctor leading an investigation tells ABC News.
During the Cold War, Washington feared that Moscow was seeking to turn microwave radiation into covert weapons of mind control. More recently, the American military itself sought to develop microwave arms that could invisibly beam painfully loud booms and even spoken words into people’s heads. The aims were to disable attackers and wage psychological warfare. Now, doctors and scientists say such unconventional weapons may have caused the baffling symptoms and ailments that, starting in late 2016, hit more than three dozen American diplomats and family members in Cuba and China. The Cuban incidents resulted in a diplomatic rupture between Havana and Washington.
Children in Havana use them as slingshots. At birthday parties and concerts they are makeshift balloons. Women use them to secure their ponytails. Drivers use lubricated ones to shine the dashboards of their vintage Chevys. Revellers sneak them into nightclubs, filled with rum. Fishermen use inflated ones as floats. Winemakers stretch them over the necks of large glass bottles, which they use instead of oak casks. An erect one means fermentation is still producing carbon dioxide; a deflated one means that the process is complete.
August 2018
The Trump administration is expected to name Mauricio Claver-Carone, one of the most outspoken opponents of the Obama administration’s rapprochement with Cuba, as the new senior director of the National Security Council’s Western Hemisphere Affairs, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the decision.
A witness box occupies the center of the courtroom. Five judges in long black robes listen to testimony. The defendant watches from the front row of the gallery with an armed guard at his side. There is no jury. This is how justice operates in Cuba’s socialist system. Or at least that is what Florida prosecutors gleaned from a murder trial in Havana that was groundbreaking on several fronts: The star witness was a detective from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office; the defendant was a Cuban national accused of shooting a Jupiter Farms doctor in the head before he fled to the island, and a Florida prosecutor helped prepare the Cuban prosecution team for trial.
A witness box occupies the center of the courtroom. Five judges in long black robes listen to testimony. The defendant watches from the front row of the gallery with an armed guard at his side. There is no jury. This is how justice operates in Cuba’s socialist system. Or at least that is what Florida prosecutors gleaned from a murder trial in Havana that was groundbreaking on several fronts: The star witness was a detective from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office; the defendant was a Cuban national accused of shooting a Jupiter Farms doctor in the head before he fled to the island, and a Florida prosecutor helped prepare the Cuban prosecution team for trial.
Travel to Cuba can be confusing, especially in light of U.S. travel restrictions and advisories that often make people think twice about visiting the island. But a new U.S. travel advisory should at least help alleviate some concerns about safety. Last week the State Department softened the travel advisory on Cuba from a Level 3 (reconsider travel) to a Level 2 (exercise caution) and also resumed routine services for American citizens at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
North Korea and China have taken measures to boost their ties with Cuba, bringing together communist Cold War-era powers often critical of U.S. policies that often still target them today.
Just what this new constitution portends is unclear. But spare a ration of pity for President Miguel Diaz-Canel. Since taking office last April, he has been tasked improbably with peddling change as continuity and, at the same time, continuity as a new revolution.
The United States on Thursday revised its travel advisory on Cuba to “exercise increased caution,” from “reconsider travel,” a move that some in the tourism sector hope could help reverse a decline in American visitors to the Caribbean island.
Only four Asia-Pacific nations—China, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines—rank in Cuba’s annual list of major visitor sources.
A Cuban journalist who says he was accused of spreading propaganda and working as a paid agent of the American government is being detained in Texas while he pleads with federal officials to grant him asylum in the United States. Serafín Morán Santiago, 40, a freelance journalist who has worked for Univision 23, Telemundo and Cubanet.com, arrived at the U.S. border in April after, he says, being targeted for his political writings and criticism of the Cuban government.
The plans are spelled out in budget documents for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years from the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, which runs pro-U.S. networks such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. The agency says the government has plans to use "native" and "non-branded" Cuban Facebook accounts to spread government-created content without informing Cuban Facebook users.
A U.S. Coast Guard crew from Key West was working on the 154-foot fast response William Trump cutter, which launched in 2014, when they reported finding the "rustic" vessel with a woman and 20 men. "This is as much a safety issue as it is a law enforcement issue," Capt. Jason Ryan, chief of the Coast Guard 7th District enforcement branch, said in a statement.
Three years ago, the phones were ringing off the hook for American attorneys with a working knowledge of doing business in Cuba. U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba’s President Raul Castro announced the beginning of a process aimed at normalizing relations between the two neighbors, separated by 93 miles of the Florida Straits, in December 2014. By the following summer following a historic visit by Obama, full diplomatic relations had been restored, and embassies were opened in Washington and Havana. Now both men have left office, and the phones have gone silent.
Cuba’s decision to change its constitution and allow private property ownership has been shrugged off by small farmers, who says the island will never feed itself without far broader reform of state-run agriculture. Economists would expect farmers to welcome the shift towards private property after decades of strict government control left the island dependent on food imports and farmers unable to earn a decent living.
The defense witness, a supposed out-of-town visitor named Alex Diaz, claimed he ditched the car, avoided police and left Miami for good. But Diaz did not return to take the blame. Instead, a Miami judge allowed jurors to hear his testimony taken in Cuba — via the video feature of the popular messaging service WhatsApp.
Since the United States withdrew all but a bare-bones staff from its embassy in Havana last September in the wake of mysterious incidents that affected the health of American diplomats, no Cubans have been admitted to the United States as refugees and the U.S. will likely fall far short of its annual commitment to admit Cuban immigrants.
If you walk through Havana, you’ll usually see groups of people huddled around certain plazas, parks and side streets with their cellphones held up to their faces. These people are online. In order to post a picture to Facebook, send an email or read the news, Cubans must buy an internet access card for about a dollar from Etecsa, the state-run telecommunications company, and then find a public hot spot — but that all seems set to change.
Cuba and Canada have signed an agreement to reinforce cooperation on sex trafficking of minors and women, pledging to track and apprehend citizens from either country engaged in exploitation of children and adolescents for pornography or sexual abuse.
With the help of U.S. prosecutors, a young Cuban man accused of shooting a Palm Beach County doctor in the head in 2015 and fleeing to the island to escape the reach of the U.S. law has been convicted by a Cuban court of murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The highly unusual tactic to get a conviction was undertaken because the Cuban government doesn’t extradite Cuban nationals to the United States for trial, and it is a sign of growing law enforcement cooperation between the two countries.
The Trump administration is slashing the amount of time U.S. diplomats are posted in Cuba to one year, an unusually short time frame typically applied to war-torn or otherwise dangerous nations. The change to the “standard tour of duty” puts Cuba in league with countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and South Sudan. It follows a series of mysterious, seemingly sound-related injuries that have injured at least two dozen Americans who spent time in the country.
HAVANA - Cuba on Monday began a rare public discussion to overhaul its Cold War-era constitution, a process the government is calling participatory democracy at its best and opponents are branding a fraud. Cuba’s National Assembly approved a draft of changes to the 1976 constitution last month, including amendments that would pave the way for recognition of private small businesses and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
St. Thomas University baseball coach Jorge Perez traveled to his ancestral home of Cuba for the first time last month, and his trip filled him with a number of emotions — and sadness was chief among those feelings.
Claims that US diplomats suffered mysterious brain injuries after being targeted with a secret weapon in Cuba have been challenged by neurologists and other brain specialists. A medical report commissioned by the US government, published in March, found that staff at the US embassy in Havana suffered concussion-like brain damage after hearing strange noises in homes and hotels, but doctors from the US, the UK and Germany have contested the conclusions.
HAVANA - Cuba’s government said it provided free internet to the Communist-run island’s more than 5 million cellphone users on Tuesday, in an eight-hour test before it launches sales of the service. Cuba is one of the Western Hemisphere’s l east connected countries. State-run telecommunications monopoly ETECSA announced the trial, with Tuesday marking the first time internet services were available nationwide.
The Cuban government has said it wants more foreign investment, that it can’t afford to keep so many Cubans on the payroll of inefficient state industries, and it needs more revenue to help its stumbling economy. But some economists say recent economic moves seem contradictory to realizing those goals and that new regulations governing the island’s private sector also fly in the face of meeting the island’s economic challenges.
HAVANA - The leader of one of Cuba’s largest and most active opposition organizations was charged Friday with attempted murder after being held incommunicado for a week in eastern Cuba. Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), was charged with deliberately trying to run over an official from the ministry of the interior on Aug. 3, a spokesman for the group told Reuters by telephone.
A leader of one of Cuba's largest dissident groups has been held incommunicado for a week in the eastern part of the country, the human rights organization Amnesty International said Friday. Amnesty called on the Cuban government to allow family members of Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia to visit him at a jail in Santiago de Cuba and let him hire a lawyer of his choice.
HAVANA - Cuba said on Tuesday it was doubling the amount of land it granted would-be farmers and the lengths of their leases in an effort to increase stagnating agricultural output. The state owns 80 percent of the land and leases most of that to farmers and cooperatives. The remainder is owned by some 400,000 private family farmers and their cooperatives.
What are the most significant changes in the new draft [Cuban] constitution, and to what extent would it modernize the country? How much would Cuba’s communist system change under the proposed constitution? Will the new charter succeed in attracting foreign investment to Cuba? Ted Piccone, Vicki Huddleston, Peter Hakim, Paul Webster Hare and William M. LeoGrande respond.
Cubans living in the United States and other countries will be able to send suggestions and comments on proposed changes to the island’s Constitution, which will ultimately be presented to voters in a referendum, the government said Friday. “[The] Cuban Government invites all Cuban citizens abroad to participate in the debate on the draft Constitution,” Cuban diplomat Ernesto Soberón announced on Twitter.
Economist Richard Feinberg sees the new regulations that will govern Cuba’s private sector starting this December as “the revenge of the bureaucrat.” While the most successful of Cuba’s nearly 600,000 cuentapropistas, who work in the private sector, have been making money and are excited about trying to expand their businesses, Cuban bureaucrats, including some Communist Party stalwarts, and employees of struggling state enterprises, have been receiving “miserly salaries often in boring jobs to nowhere,” said Feinberg, a professor at the University of California San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy and a Brookings Institution fellow. “They’ve felt envious, left behind, marginalized,” he said.
Copies of Cuba’s proposed constitution went on sale this week in preparation for three months of national meetings where Cubans will be asked for their opinions and suggestions in advance of a constitutional referendum.
July 2018
Just three months after Miguel Diaz-Canel took over the presidency of Cuba from Raul Castro, his government has unveiled a new Council of Ministers—essentially, Cuba’s Cabinet—along with the draft of a new constitution and sweeping new regulations on the island’s emergent private sector. While the changes announced represent continuity with the basic reform program Raul Castro laid out during his tenure, they are nevertheless significant milestones along the road to a more market-oriented socialist system.
They call it “a fraud,” “a trap” and “illegitimate.” Those are some of the words Cuban government opposition activists on the island and in Miami use to describe a proposed new constitution endorsed recently by the National Assembly.
Cuba’s socialist government refuses to publish data on how its fitful transition out of communism has altered Cubans’ class status. But check out where Cubans get their fix of cold, sweet treats, and you can pinpoint their exact place in the island’s newly emerging socio-economic ladder.
Cuba’s looming constitutional referendum and nagging structural economic problems mean it’s unlikely the island’s leaders will take on the much-need unification of Cuba’s two currencies this year, economists said in Miami.
Fidel and Raúl Castro imposed Communist rule on Cuba and governed it for nearly 60 years without interruption. But now Raúl, 86, is trying to assure his legacy by imposing age and term limits on the presidency, almost unthinkable just years ago.
Three senior State Department officials made an unannounced trip to Havana, Cuba, amid new concerns "attacks" injuring 26 U.S. government personnel and their families may be continuing.
Cuba’s National Assembly has agreed to constitutional reform that would allow same-sex marriage on the island. The draft reform was approved on Sunday and will be put to a popular vote later this year. If approved, marriage would be redefined as a “union between two people” instead of a union between a man and a woman.
MIAMI — Cuba's leaders are setting the stage for its socialist system to survive, with a draft constitution containing the most significant political, economic and social changes since 1959.
A draft of Cuba’s new constitution omits the aim of building a communist society, recognises private property and opens the door to same-sex marriage, although it keeps the Communist party as the guiding force of the one-party system.
The Spanish government is changing its relationship with Venezuela and Cuba. The new Socialist Party (PSOE) Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, has decided to end the hard line followed by his predecessor Mariano Rajoy, of the Popular Party (PP), in favor of a new climate of “dialogue.”
A decision by President Donald Trump to dial back travel and trade in Cuba has hurt small business owners instead of the island’s Communist regime, a Miami congressional candidate said Wednesday following a rare two-day campaign stop on the island.
HAVANA (Reuters) - U.S. tourism in Cuba bounced back in June from a months-long slump, bolstered by increased visits from cruise ships that have emerged as the most vibrant part of a sector hurt by deteriorating relations under President Donald Trump.
Cuba is preparing a new constitution that proposes a division of powers at the top tier of government, an initiative that analysts say is designed to guarantee the preservation of the socialist system in a post-Castro era.
Every time Javier Garcia-Bengochea hears about another cruise line calling at the Port of Santiago in southeastern Cuba, his frustration grows.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Communist-run Cuba has started providing internet on the mobile phones of select users as it aims to roll out the service nationwide by year-end, in a further step toward opening one of the Western Hemisphere’s least connected countries.
Amid polarizing sentiments in Miami over changing diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, a congressional candidate and state lawmaker elected to represent Little Havana is visiting, well, Havana.
HAVANA/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The Cuban-led commission investigating the crash of a Cubana passenger jet in May said on Tuesday that reports on what caused it were premature, after the Mexican plane-leasing company Damojh that owned the plane blamed the crash on human error.
Global Air, the Mexican company that leased a Boeing 737-200 involved in a March airplane crash in Cuba, says pilot error, rather than poor maintenance of the aircraft, caused the tragedy that killed 112 people.
Cuba will officially recognise private property for the first time in decades under a new constitution featuring far-reaching changes, state media say.
Zayda Hernández and Víctor Cuadras are some of the Nicaraguan university students risking their lives in mass protests against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.
In a leap backwards, the Cuban government has published a massive compendium of tough new regulations governing the island’s struggling private enterprises. The new regulations—the first major policy pronouncement during the administration of President Miguel Díaz-Canel—appear more focused on controlling and restricting the emerging private sector than on stimulating investment and job creation, more concerned with capping wealth accumulation than in poverty alleviation.
Dear Mr. President:

To continue the fight for justice, we write today to ask that you hold former Cuban President Raúl Castro accountable for the murder of three American citizens, Armando Alejandre Jr., Mario de la Peña, and Carlos Costa, as well as Pablo Morales, a legal permanent resident. ...
Juan Antonio Blanco — the academic, activist, and executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba — recently announced an initiative to unmask and deport Cuban human-rights abusers now living in the United States. He declared that the drive was not “a witch hunt” against people just because of their political beliefs or affiliations with political organizations on the island.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials are still investigating health problems at the U.S. embassy in Cuba, and do not know who or what was behind the mysterious illnesses, which began in 2016 and have affected 26 Americans.
The Cuban government issued new measures on Monday to limit the accumulation of wealth by Cubans who own private businesses on the island. The provisions stipulate that Cubans may own only one private enterprise, and impose higher taxes and restrictions on a spectrum of self-employment endeavors, including the arts.
Venezuelan oil production is dropping rapidly and the government has no money to buy food, medicines or consumer goods, but there is one item that the socialist regime of President Nicolás Maduro seems unwilling to sacrifice under any circumstances: oil subsidies to Cuba.
MIAMI, FL – Cuba Study Group Executive Director Andrew Otazo issued the following statement following the Cuban government’s announcement of new regulations for the Cuban private sector: The announcement of new regulations for Cuba’s private sector lifts the cloud of uncertainty set by the Cuban government when it froze the issuing of most business licenses one year ago. Removing this moratorium is a positive development, as is the consolidation of 201 license categories that were often needlessly specific into 123 more broadly defined ones. However, the new rules also suggest that micromanagement and short-term economic thinking by the state remain the norm. Rather than meaningfully expanding the range of activities in which the private sector can operate, the new rules tinker with the existing framework on the margins. For example, new tax structures and mandated tax minimums (independent of earnings) may reduce underreporting, but they may also discourage hiring. State media reported that some cuentapropistas’ concerns were incorporated into the new rules, but authorities once again failed to address their two most pressing demands: recognition of businesses as legal entities and wholesale markets for supplies. Today’s announcement serves as further evidence that hardliners in Havana have gained leverage over economic policymaking in the year since Washington rolled back its pre-existing engagement policy. In the end, it is the very people we aim to help–Cuban entrepreneurs and the rest of civil society–that bear the brunt of these government actions. The Trump Administration should seek to reverse this trend by returning to a pro-active policy of engagement that expands ties between Americans and the Cuban people, and fosters a more enabling environment for a robust, diverse, and efficiently-regulated private sector to emerge as a true engine for economic growth in Cuba.
Three U.S. airlines - American, JetBlue, and Southwest - are bidding to take over a route to Cuba that's being abandoned by Delta Air Lines Inc.
OTTAWA—The federal government is defending its response to the mystery attacks in Cuba that have left some Canadian diplomats and family members suffering health problems, insisting that it moved fast to have those affected assessed by medical professionals.
Five Evangelical churches in Cuba say they oppose same-sex marriage because the ideology of gender is totally foreign to Cuban culture or “the historic leaders of the Revolution.”
HAVANA (Reuters) - In the busy summer travel period in Cuba, a long line of people wait for hours in the sweltering heat outside the Havana office of state-owned airline Cubana, many of them eager to visit families in the provinces.
HAVANA (Reuters) - The Cuban environmentalist activist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola who was on a hunger strike to protest his sentencing to a year in jail for contempt of authorities said on Tuesday that he had been freed on parole after an unusually broad campaign for his release.
After a first term where trips to Latin America were dominated by criticism of the US's Cuba policy, the Obama administration decided to pursue better ties with its long-isolated Caribbean neighbor after winning a second term.
Caimanera, Cuba (CNN)It's one of the most isolated places on an already isolated island.
June 2018
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress on Thursday that he intends to suspend a section of the Helms-Burton Act that allows former owners of commercial property expropriated by Cuba to sue companies and the Cuban government for using or "trafficking" in those confiscated holdings.
A Cuban exile group is forwarding complaints to federal authorities about alleged human-rights violators in Cuba who now live in the United States, with the goal of deporting people who participated in acts of violence and harassment on the island.
GEORGETOWN, GUYANA--Frank Alvarez spends his days in this English-speaking nation in South America helping fellow Cubans shop. He uses his Spanish skills at a small store, so steady streams of Cubans can snap up inexpensive T-shirts, shoes and other Asian-made goods they’ll take back to the island.
The Senate on Thursday easily passed its farm bill by a vote of 86-11, clearing the way for a conference committee to reconcile differences with the House's version of the sweeping agriculture and nutrition legislation.
Senate leadership's goal of holding a floor vote on the farm bill this week is now in doubt, as key farm-state lawmakers work to resolve a new demand from Sen. Marco Rubio over a provision that would promote agricultural trade with Cuba.
WASHINGTON/HAVANA (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday urged Cuba to free two men who Amnesty International has called “prisoners of conscience,” saying their imprisonment exemplifies how the Cuban government continues to silence its citizens’ peaceful opposition.
HOUSTON, June 25 (Reuters) - A tanker that for more than a month was unable to deliver Russian crude to Venezuela’s PDVSA amid a dispute between the state-run firm and ConocoPhillips has discharged its cargo in the Caribbean, and a second vessel is soon to follow, according to Reuters data and a source with knowledge of the sales.
Cash-strapped Cuba wants to reboot its flagging mining sector by luring foreign investors with attractive untapped reserves such as nickel. While there’s been some interest, could frosty relations with the US and years of underinvestment mean Cuba will struggle to capitalise on its potential? Heidi Vella investigates.
Newly named Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel is allowing the media to have a bit more freedom with their reporting. Journalists can now publish news of important events without government approval and accept advertising from Cuba's small private sector.
Several U.S victims of alleged "health attacks" in Cuba have hired a lawyer out of concern over how the U.S. government will handle their long-term medical treatment.
“Little bro, hook me up with a refill. It's only 20 little pesos.”
The number of Cuba itineraries and Caribbean cruises with port calls at Havana (on the Atlantic coast), Cienfuegos and former capital Santiago de Cuba (both on the Caribbean coast) has soared in the last two years.
President Donald Trump stood before a crowd of Cuban Americans at the Manuel Artime Theater in Little Havana a year ago Saturday and with great fanfare and to the accompaniment of an exile violinist playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" announced his new vision for Cuba policy.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States on Thursday renewed calls for the Cuban government to determine the source of health “attacks” on U.S. diplomats in Cuba that have affected some two dozen people.
While Cuban diplomats keep traveling the United States insisting it is time for the U.S. embargo to be lifted and prospecting for support at American universities, city councils and state legislatures, the Trump administration appears to have little interest in engaging on the embargo or Cuba's other major issue — occupation of the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base.
One year after President Donald Trump came to Miami and signed a presidential directive outlining his new Cuba policy, the White House shows little appetite for negotiations of a “better deal” with Havana, one of his campaign promises.
Intellectual honesty is rarely a politician’s strong suit. But Florida Senator Marco Rubio showed us just how epic his hypocrisy is when he didn't denounce President Trump’s bromance this week with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. So epic it can only be explained by a line from another epic, “Lawrence of Arabia.”
The first round of bilateral meetings between the U.S. and Cuba since Washington permanently withdrew personnel from the embassy in Havana will take place on Thursday in Washington, DC.
Washington County farmer Doug Bentrem is interested in improving the market for agricultural products, like the beef he produces at his family’s farm.
TAMPA — June 16 will mark a year since President Trump announced a tougher Cuba travel policy, but unlike in much of the nation, the changes don’t seem to have hurt local bookings to the island.
He doesn’t want you to think so, but as is customary for him, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is standing by his old campaign foe and "con man" — aka President Donald Trump — when it comes to engagement with North Korea’s brutal dictatorship.
The trial of a Texas man charged with trying to smuggle tens of thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment into Cuba from the Florida Keys began this week in Miami federal court.
TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Rick Scott has repeatedly blasted President Obama’s move to thaw relations with Cuba, criticizing him for not securing moves toward democracy, the lack of punishment for human rights abuses and the continuing persecution of political prisoners by the Castro regime.
The lede in the New York Times piece was striking in its certainty:
Two Venezuelan women were reportedly beaten by Cuban immigration officials at José Martí International Airport in Havana after being told they could not enter the island and had to leave their luggage behind.
The US government has withdrawn two more US workers from its embassy in Cuba following fresh accounts of bizarre noises followed by an array of symptoms consistent with mild traumatic head injuries, according to a series of reports from the Associated Press.
(CNN) Cuba's foreign ministry said Sunday that it has not uncovered the cause of mysterious health symptoms that affected an official of the US embassy in Havana last month and characterized the United States' decision to withdraw personnel posted there as "politically motivated."
The two black boxes recovered from last month's fiery crash of a Boeing 737-200 leased by Cuba's national airline are now in Washington D.C. where they are being analyzed at the National Transportation Safety Board's recorder lab.
Cuba's customs agency is threatening to confiscate packages sent from the United States with people who travel to the island to deliver items under the radar for shipping companies.
It sounds like the plot device of a techno-thriller or spy novel. In 2016 and 2017, 24 diplomats in Cuba reported hearing strange noises. Later, they showed symptoms of neurological damage similar to the effects of a concussion.
President Donald Trump appointed Miami’s former mayor and self-described Cuba “hardliner” Tomás Regalado to run Radio and TV Martí, a sign that tougher U.S. policies could be in store for the island regime and its Latin American allies.
In the countryside of western Havana, during the fall, rickety yellow buses carry first-year medical students from the Latin American School of Medicine. Wearing short-sleeved white smocks and stethoscopes, they go door to door, doing rounds, often speaking to their patients in broken Spanish. “Even people whose houses I wasn’t visiting sometimes would ask me to take their blood pressure, because they just saw me in the street,” Nimeka Phillip, an American who graduated from the school in 2015, told me.
GUANGZHOU, China — A crisis over a mysterious ailment sickening American diplomats and their families — which began in Cuba and recently appeared in China — widened on Wednesday. The State Department evacuated at least two more Americans who fell ill in China after hearing strange noises, officials said.
WASHINGTON, D.C.--Google is close to reaching an agreement with the Cuban government to expand internet access on the island, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake told el Nuevo Herald.
The State Department has set up a task force that will direct a multi-agency response to mysterious health incidents that have caused symptoms ranging from concussions to hearing loss in U.S. diplomats who were stationed in Cuba and China.
HAVANA--New President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Monday held his first official meeting with visitors from the U.S., discussing increased internet access for Cuba with Google executive Eric Schmidt and Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona.
Science works best when qualified people can evaluate evidence without political pressure to draw poorly founded conclusions, say 15 neuroscientists and physicists.
Presidential term limits and the legalisation of same-sex marriage are amongst reforms being proposed by Cuba's national assembly.
Mail can once again be sent directly between the United States and Cuba.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Seven people drowned and two remain missing as a result of flooding last week in Cuba caused by storm Alberto that forced tens of thousands to evacuate and caused a spill of oily water in Cienfuegos bay, Cuba’s Civil Defense authority said.
May 2018
Forty years ago, almost to the day, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba made its American debut at the Kennedy Center Opera House. On Tuesday, the company landed on the same stage, marking its 70th anniversary with a U.S. tour.
CARACAS (Reuters) - Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel flew into in Caracas on Wednesday for his first foreign visit as head of state, a show of solidarity for Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro whose controversial re-election this month drew fire in the West.
Cubans are increasingly using the balance of their cellphone accounts with the government's ETECSA telecommunications monopoly as a virtual currency sometimes called "el ETECSO."
When Cuba adopted its current constitution, the sugar-based economy was being bolstered by aid from the Soviet Union, citizens were forbidden to run private businesses or sell homes and gays kept their sexual identity a tightly guarded secret.
The most senior scientist in Cuba has called on his opposite numbers in the US and Canada to assess the evidence behind claims that mysterious attacks in Havana left American and Canadian diplomats with inexplicable concussion-like brain injuries.
United Nations members have recommended that Cuba establish an independent national human rights institution, immediately release prisoners of conscience and end the harassment of human rights activists.
The renewal of U.S. tourist visas issued to Cubans since bilateral relations were established in 2015 has turned into a headache for many relatives in Miami.
A flamenco dancer. A woman on her way to meet her mother, visiting from the United States. A doctor on vacation from a job in Brazil. Ten couples from an Evangelical church. A sociologist finishing his master's degree. And a mother with a 7-year-old daughter.
HAVANA, May 24 (Reuters) - Rainfall has shuttered all but a few of Cuba's 54 sugar mills, with output down nearly 40 percent to the lowest level in more than a century, which could force the island to import, official media and industry sources say.
It's not exactly business as usual in Cuba anymore.
Soon after a passenger plane crashed near Havana's airport last week, killing 111 people, Cuba's new president Miguel Díaz-Canel arrived at the scene as the wreck of the Boeing 737 still smouldered.
WASHINGTON — The same symptoms of a mysterious attack that sickened American diplomats in Cuba have been reported at a United States consulate in southern China, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers on Wednesday.
Havana’s cruise-ship terminal will be able to handle three times as many vessels by 2024 as communist Cuba upgrades its tourist infrastructure to accommodate a surge in U.S. visitors.
Luis Posada Carriles, the Cuban exile militant who left no bomb or bullet unturned in a fruitless four-decade-long series of attempts to kill Fidel Castro, died early Wednesday morning after a long battle with throat cancer.
Cuban officials are still identifying the 111 people who died in last Friday’s crash of a Cubana Airlines 737 on takeoff from Havana. Two surviving passengers remain in critical condition. Some Cubans here hope the tragedy will bring changes to how Cuba – and the U.S. – approach air travel on the island.
CIENFUEGOS, CUBA It was 11:30 in the morning last Thursday when Luis Roque heard the first pleas for help. He was about to head to work when his neighbor's screams made him stop in his tracks.
For half a century Fidel Castro seemed to be everywhere in Cuba — inspecting factories, farms and offices, expounding to the press and zooming to the scenes of natural disasters to direct the minutest details of the response.
A delegation of LGBTQ leaders from the United States, including Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith and Freedom to Work founder Tico Almeida, last week visited Cuba to join fellow activists for pride events on the island.
U.S. and Mexican aviation experts are joining an investigation of the crash of a Boeing 737 charter flight outside Havana that killed more than 100 people, Cuban authorities said, as allegations emerged that the airline had previously been warned about safety violations.
(HAVANA) — The Mexican charter company whose 39-year-old plane crashed in Havana had been the subject of two serious complaints about its crews’ performance over the last decade, according to authorities in Guyana and a retired pilot for Cuba’s national airline.
A State Department seminar on Cuba scheduled for Friday has been called off in another sign of the differences between the department and the White House on Cuba policy.
Cuba's Ladies in White, a dissident group whose goal is freedom for all Cuban political prisoners, will receive the Cato Institute's $250,000 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty Thursday at a dinner in New York.
After six decades of communist rule in Cuba, the island is now governed by someone outside of the Castro family for the first time since the 1959 revolution. The new leader, Miguel Diaz-Canel, was vice president and a provincial party chief.
A United Nations review on Wednesday of Cuba's human rights record highlighted the persistent divide between Cuba and the United States as Cuban delegates once again cited the U.S. embargo against the island as the main obstacle to its development and American counterparts attacked Cuba's electoral system as a sham.
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Venezuela’s state-run oil firm PDVSA has bought nearly $440 million worth of foreign crude and shipped it directly to Cuba on friendly credit terms - and often at a loss, according to internal company documents reviewed by Reuters.
HAVANA — Salsa music blasted through the streets of Havana's Vedado neighborhood on Saturday as hundreds of people danced and waved rainbow flags during a march to mark the 11th annual Cuban Campaign against homophobia.
A momentous change has come to Cuba: its president is no longer named Castro. Since the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Fidel and then his younger brother, Raul, ruled and ruined this gem in the Caribbean. On April 19, Miguel Diaz-Canel became president of Cuba, ending nearly six decades under Castro control.
In the months after Donald Trump was elected, cruise lines fretted that the new president would kill their nascent business to Cuba.
Gonzálo Naranjo can close his eyes and return to his childhood in the La Vibora neighborhood of Havana. Now 84, he still remembers playing “four corners” with a rag baseball, never thinking he would one day play for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
A blast of Cuban art is hitting the Kennedy Center this month. The “Artes de Cuba” festival kicked off at the Eisenhower Theater on Tuesday night with an exuberant cornucopia of music offering a foretaste of two weeks of performances — from a jazz quintet that offered one number a cappella, with only hand-clapping as accompaniment, to an 87-year-old chanteuse, Omara Portuondo, who coquetted with the audience, sang three songs with heart and engagement, and lifted the curtain, after it had come down, to offer a last enthusiastic goodbye.
HAVANA (Reuters) - A United Nations agency said on Tuesday an “unjust” U.S. financial and trade embargo on Cuba had cost the country’s economy $130 billion over nearly six decades, coming up with the same estimate as the island’s communist government.
Cuba is ramping up efforts to attract foreign investment as Miguel Díaz-Canel, who replaced Raúl Castro as president last month, begins the tricky balancing act of trying to solve the country’s economic crisis without undermining Communist party rule. Although it is still early days for Mr Díaz-Canel, a party apparatchik, diplomats and foreign businessmen report that a number of negotiations are under way — from infrastructure and agriculture to tourism and energy.
First they fired him from the university. Now they want to take his farm.
In his inaugural address, the new president pledged to continue Raúl Castro’s vision, most notably his unfinished “updating” of the economy, a Cuban form of market socialism launched in 2011 to replace the former Soviet-style central planning system. If he is successful, his reforms would produce the most profound transformation since Fidel took power six decades ago and lay the groundwork for what his brother Raúl called “prosperous and sustainable socialism.”
HAVANA — Mariela Castro, a Cuban lawmaker and daughter of Communist Party chief Raul Castro, says she will push for gay marriage to be included in a constitutional reform process expected to begin in July.
Despite the frost on U.S.-Cuba relations, the biggest Cuban cultural extravaganza ever held in the United States will get under way next week at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Ever since President Trump tightened travel restrictions to Cuba last year, many Americans who would like to see the island nation’s verdant landscapes and vibrant arts scene have been waiting for more favorable political winds. In the meantime, you can dust off your guayabera shirts and salsa-dancing shoes, because the Kennedy Center is offering a little piece of Cuba in the capital.
MIAMI — Former Miami Judge Mary Barzee Flores is switching her congressional campaign to run against Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, giving the longtime incumbent the first serious Democratic challenger he has had in a decade.
MIAMI — Sen. Marco Rubio is backing former Miami mayor and Cuban exile leader Tomas Regalado to lead the troubled federal office that oversees Radio and TV Martí in its attempts to counter Cuba’s state-run media on the island.
HAVANA (Reuters) - At Cuba’s first major political rally since Raul Castro handed the presidency over to his protege Miguel Diaz-Canel, the two men stood side-by-side overseeing Havana’s May Day march on Tuesday in a show of continuity and unity on the Communist-run island.
April 2018

The Man Who Saved Havana

April 30, 2018

On a sweltering morning in Old Havana, a courtly figure in a crisp gray guayabera shirt weaves through the Plaza de Armas, the city’s Spanish colonial heart, trying not to attract attention. Although none of the foreigners lolling beneath the banyan trees and royal palms recognize him, a ripple of excitement passes through the Cubans, who nudge each other, smile and stare. Perhaps only on this island obsessed with its operatic past could a historian become a celebrity on a par with a Clooney or DiCaprio. Eusebio Leal is the official historian of the city of Havana, a regal-sounding position that brings with it enormous influence and exposure—he starred for many years in his own TV show where he explored Old Havana’s streets—and he is as far from the cliché of the dusty, isolated academic as it is possible to get. In fact, Leal is credited with almost single-handedly bringing Old Havana from the brink of ruin to its current status as the most ravishing and vibrant architectural enclave in the Western Hemisphere.
When Miguel Díaz-Canel was elevated to the presidency of Cuba's Council of State last week, a group of more diverse politicians — many not born or who were children at the time of the 1959 Cuban Revolution — joined him in high-level positions on the council.
Cuba had a 7 percent decline in overall tourism during the first three months of 2018, partly caused by a sharp drop in U.S. travel to the island, according to official data released Tuesday.
WASHINGTON--The U.S. Senate ground to a halt last week, and Cuba was the culprit.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba forecasts nickel plus cobalt sulfide production will exceed 50,000 tonnes this year even as prices rise, the head of the country’s state monopoly Cubaniquel was quoted by local media as stating on Tuesday.
Only 90 miles from Florida, Cuba has long been a source of fascination for Americans. The country’s proximity combined with nearly six decades of travel restrictions created a romantic myth around the Pearl of Antilles for many living in the United States.
It’s comfortable — and politically expedient — for beleaguered President Donald Trump to delegate the shaping of U.S.-Cuba policy to his former campaign foe Sen. Marco Rubio of Miami, as he seems to be doing by default.
This week, Cuba entered a new, post-Castro era. For 60 years, the country had been directly led by two members of one family. First, there was Fidel Castro, a charismatic but often ruthless revolutionary who was prime minister between 1959 and 1986 and then president until 2008.
HAVANA — The streets brimmed with people going about their day, hauling handcarts of fruit down narrow side streets, shuffling along sun-faded esplanades, waiting impatiently at the crosswalks of busy intersections.

Notas sobre un traspaso

April 19, 2018

En Cuba, un país con un control político que —en esencia— aún responde a un sistema totalitario, el traspaso de poder que está ocurriendo no es fácil desestimar con el simple argumento de más de lo mismo.
Cuba's new President Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel grew up in the Cuban revolution and it's clear his mission is to make sure it survives.
It's an end of an era in Havana. On Wednesday, Cuba's National Assembly convened a session that will culminate in President Raúl Castro stepping down from his post in favor of his first vice president, Miguel Diaz-Canel. The move sets the stage for a startling reality: Diaz-Canel will become the first non-Castro to lead the Caribbean nation since Marxist revolutionaries swept to power almost six decades ago.

Cuba after the Castros

April 19, 2018

In the next few days, history will be made in Cuba. For the first time in almost 60 years, a Castro will not rule the island, as Fidel Castro’s 86-year-old brother Raúl steps down as Cuba’s head of state. While Fidel Castro’s death in 2016 inspired predictably polarized reactions across the globe, Raúl Castro’s legacy is harder to place.
A little more than two years ago, the sitting president of the United States was taking in a baseball game in the Cuban capital of Havana.
LIMA, PERU--The FBI is closer to finding answers about the mysterious attacks that caused health ailments in at least 24 U.S. diplomats, relatives and intelligence agents in Havana, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told the Miami Herald. And the symptoms of some victims are so severe they will not be able to return to work.
Today, Cuba begins an important transition: Raúl Castro steps down as Head of State. While he will continue as First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party through 2021, Castro’s retirement from an executive position portends the ultimate passing of the Revolution’s “founding generation” from power.
HAVANA — Thursday will mark the end of an era for Cuba.
HAVANA (AP) — A legislative session that will see a historic political transition in Cuba is going to start one day earlier than expected.
As Cuba undergoes a historic political and economic transition, the U.S. must be poised to seize this moment as an
opportunity. With Russia and China extending their spheres of influence into the Western Hemisphere, U.S. national
security interests are at risk. The U.S. government must acknowledge these security challenges and take steps to engage
with the new government of Cuba, beginning by fully staffing the U.S. embassy in Havana.
Washington D.C. – April 19, 2018 will mark the first time in over half a century that Cuba’s Head of State will not be named Castro. The Cuba Study Group today published a White Paper analyzing the political, social, and economic challenges the island’s government faces as it prepares for its historic leadership transition.
LIMA, PERU--The secretary general of the Organization of American States urged participating governments at the VIII Summit of the Americas to put more pressure on Cuba and “not allow a convenient indifference in the face of a dictatorial situation.”
LIMA, PERU--Washington and its hemispheric allies on Saturday took turns hammering Venezuela over its human rights record — urging the region to reject the country’s “sham” May 20 presidential elections and agitating for more sanctions.
Starting a business anywhere in the world is always like “swimming upstream,” says the entrepreneur behind a popular Havana restaurant.
LIMA, PERU--Amid shouts of "Down with the worms!" and "I am Fidel," an official Cuban delegation interrupted Thursday'sfinal session of a civil society conference taking place alongside the VIII Summit of the Americas.
LIMA, PERU--Former Latin American presidents on Wednesday urged participants in the upcoming VIII Summit of the Americas to reject the new Cuban government scheduled to take power next week.
Doing business with Cuba has been historically tricky, with complex U.S. rules to untangle, lack of direct bank transactions and an often unreceptive Cuban government.
First came the mysterious sound — then the diplomatic fury. When a group of US embassy workers fell ill in Havana, Cuba, after rumoured “sonic attacks”, staff were recalled and travel advice toughened up. The peculiar episode raises the question: can sound be weaponised? The diplomats started falling victim to the mystery malaise in December 2016. It has now emerged that those affected displayed symptoms commonly associated with concussion, even though none had any history of head injury. These included headaches, balance issues, cognitive problems and hearing loss. The findings appeared last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Interestingly, the medics signed non-disclosure agreements.
It appears that the U.S. Embassy in Havana will become less of a ghost town if Mike Pompeo is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of State.
LIMA, PERU--The United States condemned the Cuban government Tuesday for blocking opposition and independent activists from traveling to Peru for activities that are part of the VIII Summit of the Americas being held this week in Lima.
his month, Cuba’s Raúl Castro will leave office at the end of his second term as president, having set in motion changes to the island’s economy, politics and social relations more sweeping than any since the revolution in 1959. As he steps down after a decade at the helm, those changes are still a work in progress. The far-reaching economic reforms he launched in 2011 are at best half-finished and the pace of change has slowed. His efforts to strengthen Cuba’s political institutions are about to face the stress test of a generational leadership transition. And the Cuban public is clamoring for a better life and a greater voice. Will Miguel Díaz-Canel, Raúl’s likely successor, be able to carry these changes through to completion?
U.S. cruise ships still call on Cuban ports and U.S. airlines, such as American and Southwest, still list Havana and Camaguey as destinations.
At a time when Cuba faces a significant generational shift in power with Cuban leader Raúl Castro expected to retire from the presidency on April 19, the United States has few official eyes and ears on the island.
HAVANA--The Havana money changer has his regulars: Cubans who want to travel abroad. American visitors. And, increasingly, Cubans who want to buy U.S. greenbacks and hold on to them.
March 2018
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba’s Communist Party admitted a slowdown and errors in its implementation of Raul Castro’s market-style reforms, just weeks before he steps down from the presidency, but vowed to continue updating the Soviet-style command economy.
HAVANA, Cuba. - Cuban officials are paying attention, focusing on President Donald Trump's recent nominees: Mike Pompeo for secretary of state and Ambassador John Bolton for national security advisor.
NAIROBI — Kenya has agreed to accelerate a health agreement it signed with Cuba last year and bring 100 doctors from the country to fill gaps in Kenyan hospitals. Fifty Kenyan doctors will also be sent to Cuba for specialized training.
AURORA, Colo. — A Cuban immigrant’s long quest for freedom appears over.
Tourists are lured to Havana by the ruin porn: the capital’s decaying, pastel colonial architecture, its 1950s-era cars and the fading faces of its founding revolutionaries, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. But when photographer Greg Kahn was on assignment in the city in 2012, he stumbled on a scene that gave him a glimpse of a different Cuba: a plaza full of young Cubans partying as a DJ played contemporary electronic dance music.
VARADERO, Cuba - World famous Varadero Beach is where you will find crystal clear water, and plenty of sun and sand, but the tiny island is also the setting and the inspiration for something relatively new in Cuba.
The Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov, which the Pentagon has been monitoring because it has sailed uncomfortably close to U.S. waters on several occasions, docked at the port of Havana on Friday.
The year 2018 is a seminal one for Latin America: two-thirds of the region’s people will choose new national governments, and the citizens of Communist Cuba will be among them. Last Sunday, the island held parliamentary elections to elect a new roster of deputies for the National Assembly of the People’s Power, Cuba’s parliament. It was the penultimate step in a series of complex voting exercises that make up Cuba’s version of political democracy.
It’s game time in Cuba and the United States isn’t on the field, on the sidelines, or even in the stands; we’re at home.
Digicel, which provides wireless networks throughout the Caribbean, Central America and the South Pacific, is dropping its Cuba roaming service for U.S. customers on April 9.
Cubans in the United States who return to live on the island may be able to recover some of their rights as Cubans, but they risk losing some of their U.S. benefits
Cuba is approaching a generational change in government amid difficult circumstances and a population less interested in politics, according to preliminary returns from Sunday elections on the island that showed a record 17.1 percent of the voters did not participate.
BOGOTÁ, Colombia- Dayana Suárez, a Cuban dentist, arrived in Colombia a year ago with the hope of starting a new life here.
She defected from the Cuba medical team she was assigned to in neighboring Venezuela after the Obama administration halted a special program that welcomed medical professionals like her to the United States.
Washington D.C. – The Cuba Study Group today published a White Paper analyzing Cuba’s economic stability as the island’s government prepares for its most important leadership transition in decades in April 2018.
SANTA CLARA, CUBA- Cuba on Sunday took the final political step before a promised transition from the founders of the Communist state to a younger generation of officials.
Cubans voted to ratify a new National Assembly, a key step in a process leading to the elevation of a new president - the first in nearly 60 years from outside the Castro family.
HAVANA — A senior Cuban official on Monday condemned Washington’s decision to make the withdrawal of 60 percent of the U.S. Embassy staff permanent in response to mysterious ailments affecting American diplomats.
The State Department’s decision to make permanent the ordered departure of most U.S. diplomatic staff in Havana and designate the U.S. embassy an “unaccompanied post" is ill-advised and counterproductive. While the incidents that affected the health of U.S. personnel remain a cause for concern, this decision holds the wellbeing of the Cuban people hostage to a medical mystery that has yet to be resolved by the best experts in the U.S. government and around the globe.
A team of computer scientists from the University of Michigan may have solved the mystery behind strange sounds heard by American diplomats in Havana, who later suffered a variety of medical disorders.
WASHINGTON — Citing mysterious “health attacks” in Havana, the United States said Friday it is making permanent its withdrawal of 60 percent of its diplomats from Cuba, extending an action that has hurt the island nation’s economy and cramped Cubans’ ability to visit the U.S.
HAVANA (Reuters) - After dusk in Havana, an ice-blue neon sign illuminates the faded facade of the Cine El Megano, one of many abandoned movie houses in the Cuban capital, lighting up a once vibrant corner at the heart of the Caribbean city that had gone pitch black in recent decades.
HAVANA- There are no campaign buttons or rallies and no one will lose when Cuban voters go to the polls March 11 to ratify pre-chosen slates for the National Assembly of People’s Power — Cuba’s parliament — and for provincial assemblies.
But this year’s election will be different.
Yojany “Mamerto” Pérez, has long dreadlocks, a nose ring, numerous tattoos and a passion for extreme sport. He hangs off the walls of Havana highrises to paint and fix air conditioners to earn a decent wage. He earns extra money on the side as a baker, delivering treats at full speed aboard his skateboard, sometimes wearing a T-shirt with the word libertad (freedom) on his chest.
February 2018
Tourism apartheid — the practice of providing the best of Cuban accommodations and services for foreigners rather than Cubans themselves — has been going on for decades on the island.
HAVANA (Reuters) - A surge in sales of Cuba’s legendary cigars in China helped manufacturer Habanos S.A.’s global revenue rise 12 percent to hit a record of around $500 million last year, the company said on Monday at the start of Cuba’s annual cigar festival.
When a mystery illness rippled through the US embassy in Cuba in late 2016, the diplomatic fallout was rapid. The US slashed the number of people at its Havana mission and expelled 15 Cuban diplomats after at least 24 American staff and family reported a mix of headaches, dizziness, eyesight, hearing, sleep and concentration problems.
HAVANA- Inside a small old Havana shop are dolls inspired by Norse fairy tales, Native American dolls with their own teepee, elf dolls, an updated version of the Santeria deity Ochún in a gold dress, and baby dolls in career outfits.
If you think driving in Miami is scary, consider this: drivers have a higher chance of dying in a car crash in Cuba than in Florida.
HAVANA — U.S. lawmakers visiting Cuba urged the State Department on Wednesday to restore embassy staff pulled from the country last year in response to mysterious ailments among diplomats and their families.
Cuba, which has been operating under two currencies for the past two decades, may soon go back to a single one, a U.S. congressional delegation visiting the island this week said at a press conference on Wednesday.
An artist who has used mounted police officers to corral gallery visitors and, on another occasion, required museum-goers to pass an immigration lie detector test, is to be Tate Modern’s next commission for the Turbine Hall.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban comedian Luis Silva, better known as his popular television character Panfilo, denounced discriminatory policies against Cubans in their own country in a Facebook post on Friday, in an unusually strong, public criticism of the government.
U.S. personnel at the embassy in Havana who've experienced a rash of symptoms from mysterious "health attacks" appear to have suffered "widespread brain network dysfunction," but there's still no answer about the cause, according to a new peer-reviewed medical report.
It was a cool night for Havana, with the temperature falling into the mid-70s, and the diplomat and his family were feeling very good about their assignment to Cuba. They were still settling into their new home, a comfortable, Spanish-style house in the lush enclave that had been called “el Country Club” before wealthy families abandoned it in the early years of the revolution. “We were just thrilled to be there,” the diplomat recalled. “The music, the rum, the cigars, the people — and a very important moment for diplomacy.”
It started with strange symptoms reported by U.S. diplomats in Havana. And now the alleged attacks may continue to affect Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits.
A creditors group wants Cuba to begin talks on more than $1 billion in unpaid commercial debt from the 1980s — a key hurdle if the country ever hopes to attract large-scale foreign investment.
The University of Miami doctor who traveled to Havana to examine American diplomats and others who were allegedly victims of health attacks, has ruled out Cuba’s suggestion that the symptoms were the result of mental angst.
WASHINGTON/HAVANA (Reuters) - A U.S. task force ordered by President Donald Trump agreed on Wednesday to spend the next year examining ways to expand internet access and the free flow of information in Communist-run Cuba.
HAVANA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cuba has given a visa to a senior American diplomat to lead the U.S. embassy in Havana, a U.S. official said, in a sign both nations want to keep open lines of communication despite a sharp deterioration in relations since President Donald Trump took office.
Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera is back in the news with the opening of her “Untitled (Havana 2000)” installation at New York City's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), showing through March 11.
WASHINGTON--President Donald Trump will nominate intelligence and Mexico expert Kimberly Breier to be assistant secretary of the State Department’s Western Hemisphere Affairs, two sources with knowledge of the White House selection process have told McClatchy.
HAVANA - After volunteering for the Peace Corps in Peru, Vicki J. Huddleston spent many years serving in the U.S. State Department. She worked in Haiti, Madagascar and Mali. While representing the U.S. in Africa, she was deputy assistant secretary of state and deputy assistant secretary of defense. But it was her time in Cuba that was the most impactful.
HAVANA (Reuters) - When Alan Gross heard the Trump administration’s renewed U.S. push to expand internet in Cuba, disbelief washed over the American who spent five years in a Cuban jail for trying to establish clandestine communication service on the Communist-run island.
Fidel Castro’s eldest son has joined a long list of public figures who have taken their own lives in a country with one of the highest rates of suicide.
Cuba is protesting the creation of a U.S. task force on increasing internet access on the island — a measure that is part of President Donald Trump's hardening of U.S. policy on Cuba.
HAVANA (Reuters) - The son of late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, committed suicide on Thursday after being treated for months for depression, Cuban state-run media reported.
January 2018
HAVANA (Reuters) - The European Union has offered to advise Communist-run Cuba on consolidating its two currencies, drawing on its experience from introducing the euro, an EU official said on Wednesday during a visit to Havana.
HAVANA--When Tom Popper flew to Havana over the weekend, his flight from New York's JFK airport was only 27 percent full. For the president of InsightCuba, a Cuba tour operator, that was a sure sign that travel to the island is in trouble this winter.
The State Department says 19 American travellers who visited Cuba have reported symptoms similar to those suffered by U.S. diplomats, following a travel warning for the country posted in September.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba canceled sugar exports this month and is struggling to meet local demand after rain all but washed out harvesting, the head of the state sugar monopoly said over the weekend.
After months of speculation about who will succeed Cuban leader Raúl Castro, something became clear this week: Castro will not be able to pass the government leadership to his son, Col. Alejandro Castro Espín.
HAVANA (Reuters) - U.S. supporters of improved relations with Cuba joined the top leadership of the Caribbean country on Sunday to inaugurate a replica of a New York statue of its independence hero Jose Marti.
HAVANA — The wife of a Cuban intelligence agent imprisoned in the United States for 10 years has written an unusual public complaint that her husband wasn’t chosen as a member of the country’s parliament.
HAVANA (CBSMiami) — Cuba’s nominating commissions have chosen their candidates for their next parliament – the group which will select the island nation’s next president this year.
Cubans suffered near-famine and almost daily power blackouts, and tens of thousands took to the sea aboard homemade boats during the economic crisis in the 1990s known as the “Special Period.”
On a sweltering early summer afternoon in Miami's Little Havana, President Donald Trump told a cheering Cuban-American crowd that he was rolling back some of Barack Obama's opening to Cuba in order to starve the island's military-run economy of U.S. tourism dollars and ratchet up pressure for regime change.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban actress Aniet Hernandez lost all hope that she and her two children would ever join her husband in Miami when the Trump administration slashed staffing at the U.S. embassy in Havana in September and stopped almost all visa processing.
Dozens of U.S. groups that organize trips to Cuba say they are continuing to take Americans to the island despite the U.S. State Department urging people to reconsider their plans to visit.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba has not provided a detailed breakdown of key economic activity in its annual statistical abstract for the first time this century, leaving would-be investors more in the dark than usual about the Communist-run economy.
Electrical power was quickly restored after Hurricane Irma’s scrape along Cuba’s northern coast, much of the flood damage in Havana was cleaned up within weeks, and tourism facilities opened in time for the winter season.
Canada says it has no plans to pull embassy workers out of Cuba even as the United States defended its claims that staff in the Caribbean country were deliberately attacked, after a number of American and Canadian diplomats were struck with mysterious symptoms.
On its deadly run through the Caribbean last September, Hurricane Irma lashed northern Cuba, inundating coastal settlements and scouring away vegetation. The powerful storm dealt Havana only a glancing blow; even so, 10-meter waves pummeled El Malecón, the city’s seaside promenade, and ravaged stately but decrepit buildings in the capital’s historic district. “There was great destruction,” says Dalia Salabarría Fernández, a marine biologist here at the National Center for Protected Areas (CNAP).
The U.S. State Department has changed its travel alert system and now recommends American citizens “reconsider” visiting Cuba. It had previously issued a warning advising Americans not to travel to the island.
ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria sent 2.1 million barrels of crude oil to Cuba last year and will ship the same amount in 2018, an official at state energy firm Sonatrach said on Wednesday, helping Cuba to offset lower supplies from the island’s closest ally, Venezuela.
It's not just the U.S. State Department that is baffled by the health problems of diplomats who've worked in Cuba. The Canadian government said Wednesday it also has no idea who or what is behind the mysterious ailments.
WASHINGTON--State Department officials said Tuesday that experts are still investigating the source of the mysterious attacks against at least 24 U.S. embassy officials and their family members in Havana, including possibly ultrasound and viral, which Sen. Marco Rubio concluded must be the product of a rogue element within the Cuban government or another nation-state like Russia operating with Havana’s knowledge.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has ordered a new inquiry into health problems suffered by diplomats serving at the US embassy in the Cuban capital Havana.
Late last year, the Trump administration issued long-awaited regulations that impact U.S. companies seeking to do business in Cuba. Among other things, the new regulations block business with certain Cuban entities owned or controlled by Cuban military, intelligence or security services that are specifically included on a new Cuba Restricted List published by the U.S. State Department, and restrict individual people to people travel to the island.
MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) will hold the first open public hearing Tuesday on the mysterious sonic attacks on U.S. diplomats and other personnel in Cuba.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States would be “putting people intentionally in harm’s way” if it sent diplomats back to Cuba, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says in an Associated Press interview , even as a new FBI report casts doubt on the initial theory that Americans there have been hit by “sonic attacks.”
Clandestina, which bills its cheeky T-shirts as “Designed in Cuba. Printed in the USA,” became the first Cuban brand to launch a website for U.S. sales in late October — just in time for its first experience with Cyber Monday and the Christmas retail season.
WASHINGTON--Sen. Marco Rubio pushed back Sunday against comments from a Republican colleague that the United States has found no evidence of “sonic attacks” in Cuba.
The next time your friend offers to pay for lunch and split the bill via Venmo, an online money transaction service, pause for a minute before hitting pay.
HAVANA (Reuters) - The European Union’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini said on Thursday that member countries combined were now Cuba’s most important economic partner and announced a series of agreements as she ended a two-day visit to the communist country.
The Malecon, a historic esplanade stretching along Havana’s coast, comes alive at sunset. The whole city comes together to chat, drink and listen to music, as Soviet-era Ladas and Chevrolets rattle past, ferrying tourists from one side of the city to the other.
The children of Cubans living abroad will be able to apply for and obtain Cuban citizenship starting this week, without the need to live on the island for any length of time.
HAVANA (Reuters) - The European Union’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini arrived in Cuba on Wednesday to help strengthen member countries’ economic and political ties with the Communist-run island.
North Dakota and Minnesota are two of the top states in the U.S. to be hurt — or helped — by the openness of U.S.-Cuba trade policies, a recent report says.
Five months ago Andy Gómez, founder and former senior fellow at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, returned as interim director of the research center. His last day was Friday, with the future of the embattled institute still up in the air and a permanent director yet to be selected.
The impact of climate change is being felt all over the world - especially on low-lying islands.
When Cuban ruler Raúl Castro met recently with Igor Sechin, head of Russia's state-owned Rosneft oil company, it was an intimate gathering, held in the same office from where Castro announced the death of his brother Fidel last year.
December 2017
Sandra is a 32-year-old Cuban psychologist. In 2015 she began to rent her home in the Flores neighborhood, outside of historic Old Havana, to take advantage of the boom in US tourism following the historic breakthrough in US-Cuban relations announced by Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro on December 17, 2014. But now the boom is a bust. This fall, she turned in her cuentapropista—self-employment—license since, she says, “only American tourists are willing to be this far from the center and pay the prices we charge for these residences.”
Few dispute the economic imperative of export growth for American agriculture. With U.S. farm income having declined nearly 50 percent over the past four years, and with 95 percent of the consumers for most farm sectors residing outside the United States, expanding U.S. export opportunities offers the clearest path to restored economic health for our agribusiness community.
Cuba announced Thursday that its current leadership would stay in power until April 2018, a clear signal that Raul Castro will remain as president two months longer than expected.
Some arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border only a few hours after the sudden change in immigration policy on Jan. 12. Others have been in the United States since much earlier. The majority face possible deportation.
He wears two or three gold chains around his neck and Nike sneakers cover his feet. He holds up a bundle of cash so that it shows on the photo with his big new car. He is Cadenaman — Chainman — one of the characters on the Instagram page Cubalseros, created by a Miami Cuban American to poke fun at recent arrivals from his native homeland.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban President Raul Castro and the head of Russian oil company Rosneft met in Havana on Saturday, the latest sign the two countries are readying a major energy agreement.
WASHINGTON--The United States has deported twice as many Cubans in 2017 than in 2016, but that still represents less than 10 percent of all the Cubans who entered the United States after Cuban nationals lost their special immigration status.
HAVANA - Niuris Higueras is among the four Cuban women entrepreneurs who co-authored an opinion piece that The Miami Herald published this week.
HAVANA--Cuba now exports vaccines, diagnostic kits and drugs developed by its Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology —the largest research center on the island — to 51 countries. But except for a small shipment for a clinical trial, the United States isn’t one of them.
Scientists at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology say they have developed promising drugs, including one that could save the limbs of diabetics, but they face hurdles getting them into the U.S. market.
HAVANA--When Dr. R. Lee Clark, then president of the University of Texas’ famed M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, visited the island in November 1980 as part of a delegation, the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro wanted to hear about the latest advance in cancer treatment.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba told senior U.S. officials during talks on migration in Havana on Monday that the U.S. decision to suspend visa processing at its embassy on the island was “seriously hampering” family relations and other people exchanges.
It’s a tough moment in Cuba for hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs and millions of families with relatives in the United States. President Trump’s new Cuba policy, announced in June and recently written into law, and the partial draw-down of the U.S. Embassy, are hurting the private sector and taking a terrible toll on Cuban families.
Question: I recently booked a cruise for my wife and me that includes two ports of call in Cuba. Are we allowed to go to Cuba on this cruise, given the new regulations?
By Jan. 3, 1961, the New York Yankees had won the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds and the U.S. State Department had lost its prize jewel of the Caribbean — Cuba.
Raúl Castro promised a better life for Cubans when he launched timid economic reforms and opened a few doors to private business. But after a decade in power, he will likely retire in the spring with the economy in recession for the second year in a row — an economic outlook that is worse than when he took control.
Cuban President Raul Castro’s enigmatic heir apparent is a rumored Beatles fan who reportedly once grew his hair long during the rise of Western pop music. He’s pushed for improved internet connectivity on the island essentially frozen in time since the 1960s and advocated for gay rights.
FOR decades Cuban exiles in Miami dreamed of the day that Fidel Castro would die. They imagined that Cubans would then rise up against the communist dictatorship that he imposed. Yet when, a year ago this week, Castro’s ashes were interred in his mausoleum, it was an anticlimax. His brother, Raúl, who is now 86, has been in charge since 2006. For a while, he seemed to offer the prospect of far-reaching economic reform. Now, as he prepares to step down as Cuba’s president in February, he is bequeathing merely stability and quiescence.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Doctors treating the U.S. embassy victims of suspected attacks in Cuba have discovered brain abnormalities as they search for clues to explain hearing, vision, balance and memory damage, The Associated Press has learned.
For Jennifer Herrera, a 20-year-old student and daughter of Cuban immigrants, Halloween was supposed to be special. It would have been the first with her fiancé, Andro, after they reunited in the United States.
HAVANA (Reuters) - The Trump administration has named career diplomat Philip Goldberg to head the all-but-abandoned U.S. embassy in Havana, according to three sources familiar with the matter, at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and Cuba.
Royal Caribbean is putting a second ship on Cuba duty.
November 2017
When Havana-based designer Idania del Río runs out of ink for silk-screen printing T-shirts, it’s likely the rest of Cuba has too. When she needs to buy buttons, she scours 10 different stores to find enough. And when she wants to send an email, she has to walk one mile from Clandestina, her independent design shop, to the nearest public wifi hotspot. And yet, despite the shortage of materials and scarce internet access – the ordinary strictures of operating a business under the country’s socialist regime – Clandestina has become the first Cuban brand to launch an online store shipping anywhere in the world – including the US.
HAVANA—To celebrate its 80th anniversary, the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine (IPK) here is throwing a birthday bash: a conference next week that several U.S. collaborators were planning to attend. All but one has backed out, says IPK virologist María Guadalupe Guzmán. Some, she says, were unsettled by recent claims that U.S. diplomats in Cuba suffered what the Department of State has described as “health attacks.” And two researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told IPK they had to pull out because agency officials forbade them from traveling to Cuba.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba and Swiss firm Nestle on Tuesday laid the first stone of a $55 million coffee and biscuits factory joint venture in the Mariel special development zone, the latest major foreign investment in the Communist-run island.
HAVANA - Several CEOs of major cruise lines traveled to Havana this week to talk to the Cuban government about business.
A newly revealed incident reported by a USAID officer who is based at the American embassy in Uzbekistan is raising suspicions Russia may have been involved and could have had a hand in bizarre attacks targeting U.S. diplomats in Cuba, according to American sources.
HAVANA (Reuters) - The first of Cuba’s 53 sugar mills has opened for what is expected to be a poor harvest after 18 months of drought, followed by damage to the crop and mills from Hurricane Irma in September.
The past few years have been a bitter-sweet period for those hoping for the Cuban authorities to relax their iron grip on people’s right to freedom of expression and assembly. High-profile visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross and Pope Francis in 2015, as well as by the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children and the UN Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity in 2017, appeared to herald greater political openness and to offer some hope that Cuba might begin to open itself up to increased international scrutiny by independent human rights monitors. A tourism boom, the expansion of Wi-Fi-internet hotspots, even a firsttime performance by the rock band the Rolling Stones (foreign rock music was deemed subversive in Cuba for decades) were other small signs that Cuba might be releasing its tight control on freedom of expression.
Armando Hart, a leading figure during the Cuban revolution who oversaw a literacy campaign that tried to ensure that all Cubans could read and write and spent much of his career as culture minister, died Nov. 26 in Havana. He was 87.
It’s been a year since the death of Fidel Castro, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, but on the island, his name is still invoked almost as much as when he was alive.
When President Obama announced in December 2014 that the United States would be restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba, the members of Major Lazer knew they wanted to be a part of it.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba took another step on Sunday toward the end of the Castro era, with millions of residents placing paper ballots in cardboard boxes for ward delegates to municipal assemblies.
A little more than a year ago, Cubans were exulting in the normalization of relations between their country and the United States after decades of trade and travel barriers. But on a recent trip to Havana, I found Cubans dismayed by President Trump’s reversal of the détente started by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Cuban leader Raúl Castro’s successor will face a perfect storm of challenges — starting with blustery winds coming from President Donald Trump’s White House.
It’s getting harder to find flights to Cuba with U.S. airlines dropping out of the market as demand softens, but Miami International Airport is holding its own as the main gateway for travel to the island.
Tour operator and travel agents just returned to their former status as the gateways for Americans seeking to visit Cuba.
In the midst of increasing international isolation, North Korea is sending its foreign minister to an old ally: Cuba. In a short message released Friday, North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency announced that Ri Yong Ho and his delegation departed on their journey to Havana.
On the homepage of Cuba Travel Services, a company that makes travel arrangements to Cuba, a banner proclaims: “YES, American travel to Cuba is still legal!”
Cuba hopes that, in the end, science will absolve it in the mysterious acoustic attacks that have damaged the health of diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
SEATTLE — Alaska Airlines says it will stop flying to Havana after demand dropped and the Trump administration imposed new restrictions on travel to Cuba.
It has been almost three years since Barack Obama declared détente with Cuba, initiating, with Cuban President Raúl Castro, a normalization of relations between the two countries. But since his election last fall, Donald Trump has attempted to revert to an obsolete and aggressive Cold War policy by strengthening the economic embargo and promoting regime change. Trump’s ill-conceived measures and bombast cannot undo all of the advances in US-Cuba relations that have been made in the past few years. But they have added to the insecurity and daily struggles of Cubans in a time of economic difficulty and the resurgence of the right in the region. Those difficulties are compounded as the Cuban government addresses the lingering effects of Hurricane Irma.
When the housing rental company he was working for asked him to take pictures for their website, Santiago Barreiro dutifully set off, armed with a one-megapixel camera and no photographic training.
Josefina Vidal, who was Cuba’s chief negotiator in the rapprochement with the United States, says the Trump administration’s new rules on travel and trade with the island confirm the “serious setback” in U.S-Cuba relations.
“It’s a good day,” said Tom Popper, president of insightCuba, on Nov. 8, the day the U.S. State Department handed down the new restrictions on hotels in Cuba promised by President Trump last June.
In March 2016, Havana was electric in anticipation of President Obama’s historic visit. Cuba was awash with a spirit of hope that relations between our two countries were finally on a path toward normal. Now, the Trump administration has released new, restrictive travel rules for Cuba — and yet, with two years of progress under our belt, it is clear a full reversal is impossible.
WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence officials are closely studying Cold War-era Soviet technology as they seek to determine whether an electronic weapon was used to disorient and injure 24 American officials in Cuba earlier this year.
Way to go, Miami Republicans. You’re really socking it to engagement in your dreams.
The regulations announced yesterday are highly counterproductive. Instead of supporting the Cuban private sector, as the administration has stated, new travel rules harm Cuban entrepreneurs and their employees by making it more difficult for individual Americans to visit the island and patronize their businesses. Rather than deal a lasting blow to the Cuban military, the ban on U.S. interaction with 180 Cuban state enterprises imposes unwieldly, and arguably unenforceable, regulatory burdens on U.S. citizens. More generally, these measures represent a setback to the broader process of normalization, which continues to be overwhelmingly popular with both the U.S. and Cuban people.
The night before the White House planned to announce new regulations restricting U.S. business and travel in Cuba, the biggest champions of President Donald Trump’s tighter policy — Miami’s Republican lawmakers in Congress — were in the dark.
The days of Americans legally staying at Ernest Hemingway’s Old Havana haunt, the Hotel Ambos Mundos, or making purchases at Havana’s only luxury shopping arcade, will be over under new regulations the Trump administration issued Wednesday as part of a crackdown on U.S. business and travel to Cuba.
HAVANA, Cuba - The Cuban government claims more tourists than ever are now visiting the island, including Americans.
On September 29, 2017, the US State Department ordered a partial closure of the US Embassy, resulting in a complete shutdown of operations in the consular section. All visa processing services were indefinitely suspended. The justification for the decision was based on unexplained health incidents affecting US diplomats and spies serving in Havana over the last year. Despite opposition from both sides, including opposition from the American Foreign Service Association, the US embassy in Havana effectively suspended over half of its services indefinitely.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Rimco, Caterpillar Inc’s dealer for Cuba, said on Wednesday it would open a distribution center for the U.S. heavy equipment maker at Havana’s Mariel special development zone, making it the first U.S. company to open up shop there.
Saying that Cuba has used the U.S. embargo against the island as a “shiny object to distract the world” from its own failures, the United States bucked the sentiment in the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday and voted against a resolution condemning the embargo.
October 2017
The Cuba Study Group welcomes the Cuban government’s decision to remove several barriers to the diaspora’s ability to travel to the island. Eliminating the requirement that Cuban émigrés seek approval to use their Cuban passports for travel to Cuba removes a redundant and arbitrary obstacle to their return to their country of origin. By making it easier for the descendants of Cuban citizens born abroad to claim Cuban citizenship, the Cuban government has laid the groundwork for greater engagement of Cubans around the world in island affairs. Finally, removing prohibitions on certain groups of undocumented Cuban migrants from returning enables the reunification of long-separated families.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration will defend America’s decades-old economic embargo on Cuba in a United Nations vote this week, the State Department said Tuesday, in a reversal from the Obama administration that reflects deteriorating U.S.-Cuban relations.
WASHINGTON--Unsatisfied with the lack of answers about mysterious sonic attacks on U.S. and Canadian diplomats and their families in Havana, a group Cuban-American House members are calling on the Government Accountability Office to investigate the State Department’s actions on the matter.
New travel regulations that Cuba announced over the weekend appear designed to make sure a steady flow of Cuban-American visitors continues.
WASHINGTON — U.S. military planners estimated they would need 261,000 troops and between 10 to 15 days to invade Cuba, oust its dictator, Fidel Castro, and take control of the country, an Aug. 8, 1962, memo for the John F. Kennedy administration shows.
Cuba's foreign minister on Saturday announced changes to the island's immigration policies, seeking to strengthen ties with the 800,000 Cubans living outside the country amid strained relations with Washington following accusations that U.S. diplomats suffered mysterious sonic attacks in Havana.
(Reuters) - Tropical Storm Philippe formed off Cuba on Saturday, dumping heavy rains on the island as it churned on a path expected to put it near south Florida overnight, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
For a half hour on prime time Thursday night, the Cuban government took to state-owned television to defend itself against U.S. accusations that American diplomats suffered from a mysterious sonic attack.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Hip Cuban clothing brand Clandestina is not waiting to see how tighter U.S. restrictions on travel to the Caribbean island affect visits of Americans shoppers. Instead, the line is taking its apparel to the United States through e-commerce.
The U.S. announced Thursday a new chief for its embassy in Cuba amid a growing diplomatic crisis between the two nations over mysterious health attacks targeting American personnel.
HAVANA — In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Cuban officials forcefully denied that their government was to blame for the mysterious ailments that have afflicted two dozen American diplomats and plunged relations with the U.S. into crisis.
The parents of Alina López Miyares left Cuba in 1969 to escape Fidel Castro's revolution. But that did not keep her from falling in love and marrying a former Cuban diplomat years later, and then traveling frequently to the island to be with him.

Cuban Art Outshines Politics

October 24, 2017

Cuba is like a giant Ping-Pong, caught in the cross hairs of United States foreign policy. One minute President Obama is relaxing restrictions, making it easier for tourists in the United States to visit the tiny island. Blink, and President Trump is rolling back some of the administration’s changes. Another blink, and the state department is advising Americans not to travel to Cuba after mysterious medical attacks on diplomats at the American Embassy in Havana.
Washington (CNN) Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has sparred frequently with President Donald Trump, will not run for re-election, he said Tuesday in a blistering floor speech bemoaning the changing tenor of politics in the United States.
MARIEL, CUBA--After years of Cuba talking about the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone as the island’s economic future, the sprawling site 28 miles west of Havana is beginning to take shape with huge tracts of land leveled and ready for construction of two major manufacturing operations.
Injuries have been confirmed to two more State Department personnel stationed in Havana, bringing to 24 the number of verified cases linked to mysterious and unexplained attacks on U.S. Embassy staff in Cuba.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba unveiled a replica of a New York statue of independence hero Jose Marti on Friday, putting a gift from the hometown of U.S. President Donald Trump on public display at a time of heightened U.S.-Cuba tensions.

The equestrian statue depicts Marti moments before his death in a cavalry charge in 1895, during the fight against Spanish colonial rule.
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Chris Allen's phone started buzzing as word broke that invisible attacks in Cuba had hit a U.S. government worker at Havana's Hotel Capri. Allen's friends and family had heard an eerily similar story from him before.
As a former prosecutor, before I charged someone with a crime I wanted to see the evidence, and before I took a case to trial I wanted a motive. While criminal law and diplomacy are obviously different, taking action based on evidence should be a standard formula.
The local Cuban newspaper put it this way: “A month after Irma's lashing, the northern coastal region of Sancti Spiritus wakes up each day looking as though the hurricane had just hit.”
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, CUBA--An attorney for a man accused of helping plot the 9/11 attacks invoked the ongoing U.S.-Cuba dispute over sonic interference with American diplomats’ brains to urge a judge to take the captive’s sleep-deprivation complaints seriously.
HAVANA, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Cuba paid the second installment on a renegotiated $2.6 billion in debt to 14 wealthy creditor nations this week, diplomats from a number of the countries said, as some creditors prepare to swap debt for an equity stake in local development projects.
HAVANA, Cuba - Delegations from St. Petersburg and Tampa were in Havana Wednesday to discuss the U.S. embargo and President Donald Trump's new U.S.-Cuba policy.
Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump said Monday that he does "believe Cuba is responsible" for the mysterious attacks that sickened at least 22 US diplomats and family members in Havana.
HAVANA--A bizarre string of attacks on diplomats in Havana has sent Cuban-American relations to their lowest point in decades, with the Trump administration virtually closing its embassy here and expelling Cuban officials from Washington. But few people on this communist-run island believe a word of the U.S. allegations.
WASHINGTON--It sounds sort of like a mass of crickets. But not quite. A high-pitched whine, but from what? It seems to undulate, even writhe. Listen closely: Some hear multiple, distinct tones colliding in a nails-on-the-chalkboard effect.
WASHINGTON — White House chief of staff John Kelly says the United States believes that Cuban President Raul Castro’s government could stop attacks on U.S. diplomats.
The U.S. premiere of Ludi Teatro has been canceled after the Cuban theatre group faced difficulties in visa approvals.
Cuba is bracing for the impact of a one-two punch from the Trump administration: stricter travel rules and an official warning about visiting the island.
When Raúl Castro steps down as Cuba’s president in February 2018, he will hand off to his successor the unfinished task of reforming the economy. It is Cuba’s most urgent need and, at the same time, an increasingly controversial one.
Before Hurricane Irma ravaged Cuba’s north coast last month, Carla León’s private business – renting her family’s three-bedroom house in Havana through Airbnb – had already begun losing customers thanks to another force of nature: Donald Trump.
The drawdown in personnel from the American embassy in Havana and the Cuban embassy in Washington in the wake of mysterious attacks on U.S. officials is a setback to the efforts begun by President Obama to reverse a five-decade policy of isolation that failed to advance U.S. interests. But whether the perpetrators of the alleged attacks, be they rogue elements of Cuban security forces or perhaps a third country like Russia or North Korea, are successful in damaging ties between the United States and Cuba will depend on how the U.S. government and American businesses, travelers and civil society respond.
In his most important speech so far this year, the possible successor to Raúl Castro described accusations made by the U.S. government of sonic attacks targeting nearly two dozen of its diplomats stationed in Cuba as “tall tales.”
When a cargo ship arrived in Cuba from Caracas this week, with supplies to help the island rebuild after Hurricane Irma, it carried a typically warm message from Nicolás Maduro, Venezuelan president. “This modest help demonstrates our nations’ civic and military union,” it read. Communist Cuba is one of socialist Venezuela’s few remaining allies. In return for subsidised oil and aid, Havana provides Caracas with doctors and intelligence operatives, a relationship that has long irked the US. “Venezuela can always count on Cubans being in the front line of militant solidarity,” Raúl Castro, Cuba’s president, said recently.
“The idea that Cuba knows nothing about how these attacks took place and who perpetrated them is absurd,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) declared on September 29, when he demanded that the Trump administration break diplomatic relations, expel Cuban diplomats from Washington, and put Cuba back on the list of state sponsors of internationalism terrorism.
In an escalation of hostilities toward Cuba that is rapidly dismantling the Obama era détente, the Trump administration on Tuesday expelled 15 Cuban diplomats. The administration has also sharply drawn down the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Havana. The administration argues that the Cuban government has failed to provide safety to U.S. diplomats, 22 of whom fell victim in a mysterious rash of illnesses, even as the precise causes and perpetrators have yet to be identified. The U.S. government does not accuse the Cuban government for the unexplained illnesses.
An ominous U.S. State Department warning against visiting Cuba and a U.S.-mandated cutback in the consular officers who issue visas at the Cuban Embassy in Washington could put the chill on some U.S. travel to the island but not as much as might be expected.
Massive discounts are available to travelers eyeing up a Cuban holiday this winter amid a souring relationship with the US and damage caused by Hurricane Irma.
Nearly a year since attacks targeting American diplomats began in Havana, Cuba, U.S. investigators are no closer to determining either the source or the methods, according to officials close to the investigation underway by several agencies including the FBI and CIA.
HAVANA (CBSMiami) – Lawmakers are demanding more answers about who and what caused serious health problems for American diplomats in Cuba.
WASHINGTON--The Trump administration will kick nearly two-thirds of Cuba’s embassy personnel out of the United States after months of mysterious attacks targeting American diplomats drove the White House to pull its own staff from Havana, according to multiple sources familiar with the plan.
US intelligence operatives in Cuba were among the first and most severely affected victims of a string of baffling sonic attacks which has prompted Washington to pull out more than half of its diplomatic staff from Havana, the Associated Press has learned.
Just when it seemed that Cuba was on track to become something of a routine destination for Americans, tensions and tactics reminiscent of the Cold War have once again complicated travel to the Communist island.
HAVANA--Stretches of the famed Malecón boulevard are still closed for repairs and seaside businesses show the scars of 30-foot waves that crashed through the seawall during Hurricane Irma.
September 2017
Two sources tell CBS News the U.S. is preparing to announce a major withdrawal of staff and family from the U.S. embassy in Cuba in response to attacks targeting diplomats. Only essential personnel will be left.

Clueless on Cuba’s economy

September 28, 2017

GABRIEL and Leo have little in common. Gabriel makes 576 Cuban pesos ($23) a month as a maintenance man in a hospital. Leo runs a private company with revenues of $20,000 a month and 11 full-time employees. But both have cause for complaint. For Gabriel it is the meagre subsistence that his salary affords. In a dimly lit minimá (mini-mall) in Havana he shows what a ration book entitles one person to buy per month: it includes a small bag of coffee, a half-bottle of cooking oil and five pounds of rice. The provisions cost next to nothing (rice is one cent per pound) but are not enough. Cubans have to buy extra in the “free market”, where rice costs 20 times as much.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cuba’s top diplomat warned the United States on Tuesday against taking hasty decisions over alleged incidents that have harmed U.S. embassy staff in Havana and urged its authorities to cooperate on the investigation into the mysterious affair.
For President Trump’s historic speech on Cuba policy on the sunny afternoon of June 16, his aides chose a special venue: Miami’s Manuel Artime Theater, a small (839 seats) performing arts center located in East Little Havana and named for the heroic Cuban physician who led the doomed Bay of Pigs invasion against Fidel Castro in 1961. The White House selected the intimate, politically charged setting to emphasize the White House’s tough stand against Fidel’s brother, Raul, who has ruled the island nation since 2008 with the same brutality his late brother exhibited across the preceding five decades.
Washington D.C. - As the Executive Branch prepares to issue regulations implementing the President’s National Security Memorandum on Cuba, the Cuba Study Group published a White Paper that assesses the projected impact of the Trump administration’s policy and makes recommendations about how to productively tailor its impact.
Havana, Cuba (CNN)Some of the 21 US diplomats believed to have been impacted by mysterious acoustic attacks in Cuba were targeted multiple times, CNN has learned from a senior US official.
If Hurricane Irma hitting Cuba and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico had one thing in common it was that - despite ample warning - they seemed to take many by surprise.
After Hurricane Irma’s devastating 72-hour pass through northern Cuba, the Cuban government took a novel approach to storm relief: It posted a Cuban bank account number on social media where humanitarian donations can be sent.
As Hurricane Irma approached, a balcony dislodged from the fourth floor of a Central Havana building and fell on a bus, killing two young women, and two brothers died in the same neighborhood when a wall from an adjoining building collapsed on to the roof of their dwelling.
As bad as things have been for those who suffered loss and discomfort from Hurricane Irma in the continental United States—where millions of Floridians evacuated their homes and fled north in slow-moving processions of possession-packed cars—the difference in scale between their experience and that of residents of the affected Caribbean islands cannot be overstated. That gap has only been accentuated by the advent of Hurricane Maria, which has wreaked havoc upon the island nation of Dominica. The United States citizens most directly in its path—as in Irma’s—are the people of Puerto Rico. Otherwise, only the destruction in the Florida Keys, which are, essentially, Caribbean outcroppings, is comparable. The damage to settlements on some of the Leeward Islands, such as Barbuda and the French-Dutch island of St. Martin, is so thorough that rebuilding seems neither realistic nor wise, given the likelihood that even greater hurricanes will come in the future.
The United States and Cuba held their sixth Bilateral Commission meeting — the first since President Donald Trump has been in office — and it wasn’t exactly cordial.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba is postponing municipal elections by a month to Nov. 26 because of the devastation wrought on the Caribbean island by Hurricane Irma, its Council of State said in an electoral notice published in the ruling Granma Party newspaper on Tuesday.
WASHINGTON--President Donald Trump threatened “further action” against Venezuela on Tuesday and promised not to lift sanctions against Cuba until the government in Havana makes fundamental reforms.
NINGBO, China, Sep 19, 2017 (PR Newswire Europe via COMTEX) -- - The joint project promotes further the Sino-Cuban cooperation in the renewable energy sector.
Staffers at the U.S. embassy in Cuba who have been victims of suspected health attacks include both top officers and lower-level employees whose duties range from diplomacy and security to medical services and maintenance, according to a list of the personnel obtained by NBC News.

Our Men and Women in Havana

September 18, 2017

Appearing on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, October 17, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed that the Trump administration was reviewing whether to close the U.S. embassy in Havana because of the mysterious injuries suffered by U.S. diplomats from late 2016 to early 2017. Just two days earlier, five Republican senators, Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) among them, urged Tillerson to close the embassy and expel all Cuban diplomats from the United States in retaliation for the purported attacks.
The U.S. State Department warned would-be travelers to Cuba Monday to “carefully consider the risks” in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and to avoid hard-hit northcentral Cuba “until further notice.”
The Trump administration will press its concerns about unexplained incidents harming American diplomats in Cuba during a meeting this week in Washington, as the United States considers shuttering its recently re-opened Embassy in Havana.
Surrounded by the remains of her home in Isabela de Sagua, a town on the north coast of central Cuba, a little girl tells a state television reporter what she lost during Hurricane Irma, which lashed across most of the island.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that the United States is considering closing the U.S. Embassy in Havana in response to mysterious hearing problems that have left at least 21 employees with serious health issues.
Aware that the Cuban government sometimes rebuffs hurricane relief from large U.S.-based charities, Cuban Americans and exile organizations are scrambling to come up with ways to help friends and family after Hurricane Irma tore through the island’s north coast.

Hurricane Irma Special Appeal

September 17, 2017

So many of you have already contacted us asking “how can I help?” and at the moment, we urge you to click on the DONATE button. Please also consider sharing the link to this page with friends, family and colleagues.
With hurricane warnings in effect for four central Cuban provinces with northern coastlines, Cubans completed last-minute preparations and evacuations Thursday in advance of Hurricane Irma.
With a hurricane watch in effect from Matanzas in central Cuba east to the province of Guantánamo, the island kicked up its preparations for Hurricane Irma on Wednesday.
Cuba on Monday began a five-month political transition expected to end with Raul Castro's departure from the presidency, capping his family's near-total dominance of the country's political system for nearly 60 years.
As the business of regularly scheduled flights between the United Stated and Cuba undergoes growing pains, JetBlue Airways has set up shop on the island
August 2017
Want to access Skype in Cuba? Without a VPN, you're out of luck. The service is blocked in the country, along with dozens of other websites, according to new report from the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), which works under the Tor Project. The study, published this week, shows just how censored Cuba's internet still is.
On Aug. 1, the Cuban government announced an abrupt halt to issuing licenses for 27 occupations in the island’s nascent private sector. After promising to advance economic reform “without haste, but without pause,” Raúl Castro’s government has now called for a break.
The latest assessments of the attacks injuring Americans and Canadians in Havana, Cuba, by U.S. intelligence analysts point to inaudible sound as the culprit -- ultra- and infrasonic waves -- according to a source familiar with the incidents that began in November 2016. However, the source says analysts are still working to rule out other technology.
Maribel (not her real name) was the deputy principal in a state-run primary school in Cuba. She had worked there since graduating, and had been promoted fast.
For the past few months, there has been a great deal of controversy over the university’s stance on relations with Cuban institutions, particularly government-run universities.
OTTAWA/HAVANA (Reuters) - Canada is not automatically assuming that Cuba was behind an alleged "acoustic attack" against U.S. and Canadian personnel in Havana and has no plans to expel Cuban diplomats, an official said on Friday.
Cardenas, Cuba (CNN)Elián González greets me with a smile and firm handshake.
At least 16 US government employees suffered symptoms after a possible acoustic attack targeting the US embassy in Cuba, the state department says.
A small sailboat carrying a group of Cuban migrants was intercepted in the ocean Wednesday, about a mile off shore from the Dania Beach pier, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Cuba suffered mild traumatic brain injury and likely damage to their central nervous system in an incident that has been linked to a sonic attack.
Elián, a documentary about the painful custody battle over whether a Cuban boy should be returned to his father on the island after his mother drowned at sea or remain with his Miami relatives, makes its TV debut on CNN Thursday.
A small sailboat carrying a group of Cuban migrants was intercepted in the ocean Wednesday, about a mile off shore from the Dania Beach pier, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Seventeen refugees who were found clinging to a lighthouse off the Florida Keys after fleeing Cuba in a self-made raft, and then were sent to Guantánamo Bay for a year, have been resettled in Brisbane.
In a videotaped private meeting with Communist Party members, Cuban Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel — often portrayed as a moderate politician with a quiet disposition — took on an all too familiar hardline tone that offered a rare glimpse into his ideology.
In a videotaped private meeting with Communist Party members, Cuban Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel — often portrayed as a moderate politician with a quiet disposition — took on an all too familiar hardline tone that offered a rare glimpse into his ideology.
Havana (CNN)A higher number of US and Canadian diplomats and their families are believed to have been attacked by a mystery sonic weapon in Havana than was initially reported, CNN has learned from two senior US government officials.
Following a private meeting Friday with 17 representatives of the Cuban exile community, the University of Miami announced that it will not establish agreements with Cuban universities or other institutions run by the Cuban government.
Marriott International is still pursuing plans to renovate and manage the historic Hotel Inglaterra on the fringe of Old Havana and is actively looking for other hotel projects throughout Cuba.
Cruise giant Carnival has added five more sailings to Cuba for 2018, citing strong demand for voyages to the island nation.
The unannounced visit to Cuba earlier this week by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, apparently to pay homage to the late Fidel Castro, has rekindled criticisms about the the Cuban government’s strong influence on Venezuela's crisis.
PINAR DEL RIO, Cuba — Calle Marti is a modest half-mile boulevard split by a simple winding flagstone path that's bracketed by green grass, pine trees and curving blue cement benches.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro traveled to Cuba on Tuesday to pay homage to deceased leader Fidel Castro, in a surprise visit days after U.S. President Donald Trump warned of possible military action against Venezuela.
As the Trump administration rewrites the rules on Cuba’s economic sanctions, President Raul Castro and other senior officials addressed Cuba’s National Assembly on the economic challenges their country faces. Castro reviewed progress on the “lineamientos,” or guidelines on Cuban economic reforms he launched after he was elected president in 2010. The guidelines are a document of the Cuban Communist Party proposed by himself and other top party leaders to rescue the Cuban economy from the Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy imposed by former president Fidel Castro that replicated the economic system of the former Soviet Union.
Havana, Cuba (CNN) When little Elian Gonzalez returned to Cuba in 2000 following a poisonous custody battle and a federal raid on his Miami relatives' home, it was to resume a life far from the glare of the media spotlight. At least that's what Cuban officials and his father said at the time.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban trade with socialist ally Venezuela has fallen 70 percent since 2014 due to the South American oil producer's inability to meet delivery contracts and purchase goods as it struggles with low oil prices and a resulting economic meltdown.
Cuba celebrated what would have been the 91st birthday of late leader Fidel Castro with a museum dedicated to denouncing “aggressions” lobbed by the United States during the more than six decades of rule by the Castro brothers.
WASHINGTON--As the Trump administration prepares to write new regulations regarding travel to Cuba, Havana and Washington are involved in a diplomatic tug of war that seems straight out of the 1960s.
HAVANA -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that U.S. diplomats in Havana have been the victims of "health attacks" that left them with hearing loss - the most definitive U.S. statement yet on a series of mysterious incidents that have longtime observers puzzled.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The two-year-old U.S. diplomatic relationship with Cuba was roiled Wednesday by what U.S. officials say was a string of bizarre incidents that left a group of American diplomats in Havana with severe hearing loss attributed to a covert sonic device.
For Cubans, the recent vote for a Constituent Assembly in Venezuela was “an exemplary victory” for President Nicolás Maduro, and the balloting took place “normally and with a great turnout.”
HAVANA — The graffiti of alien-like beings and balaclava-clad men appearing on Havana's dilapidated walls strikes a contrast with the upbeat political slogans and effigies of Cuban revolutionaries.
WASHINGTON — The State Department has expelled two diplomats from the Cuban Embassy in Washington following a series of unexplained incidents in Cuba that left U.S. officials there with physical symptoms that one official said includes potentially permanent hearing loss.
It was almost two months ago that President Trump announced he was closing down some of the opening to Cuba begun in 2014 by President Obama.
HAVANA (Reuters) - The Cuban government said on Monday the freeze on new licenses for some private-sector occupations would not last years, in an attempt to reassure citizens worried about an apparent pause in the liberalization of the economy.
HAVANA — Cuban authorities have ordered the closure of one of the island’s fastest-growing cooperatives, days after announcing that they would stop issuing new permits for some private enterprise.
Miami’s Cuban music scene has a new, younger face that cares little — if any — about politics.
HAVANA, Cuba - Authorities from the Port of Houston signed a deal with Cuban officials Wednesday in Havana.
First, Cuban authorities hauled out tables and chairs from several private restaurants on the island. Then, they put a hold on issuing permits for a range of new ventures citizens had hoped to launch — from home rentals to agricultural endeavors.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Communist-run Cuba said on Tuesday it was suspending issuing new licenses for certain private-sector activities from bed-and-breakfasts to restaurants until it had implemented new measures to curb wrongdoing such as tax evasion.
A new Kentucky chapter of an organization working to lift the United States embargo on Cuba will be unveiled Tuesday, featuring prominent state leaders and seeking to boost the export of Kentucky products like poultry, soybeans and bourbon into the country that has slowly opened to the American market over the past three years.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba praised on Monday the election in Venezuela of a new legislative superbody and denounced what it called an international plot to suppress the will of the Venezuelan people in the wake of U.S. sanctions on its key ally.
July 2017
For a lot of first-generation Cuban-Americans, Cuba is almost a myth. Grandparents talk about it at family gatherings, always insisting the music, the beaches and even the sugar was better there.
A Coral Gables business consultant watched one day in June as Cuban authorities carried out chairs, tables, plates, sound systems and bottles of imported liquor from a popular private restaurant near the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
They are teachers, engineers or farmers, all seeking freedom in the United States. But after an unexpected policy change and an end to special treatment that allowed the majority of Cuban migrants to remain legally in the country, more than 1,300 are now being held at detention centers across the country waiting for their fate to be decided by immigration judges.
HAVANA (Reuters) - A senior Cuban official rejected rumors the Communist-run island might intervene as a mediator in Venezuela's crisis and called on Wednesday for "absolute respect for the sovereignty" of its socialist ally.
The fraught strategic relationship of the United States with Cuba — which was then a Spanish colony — began on Feb. 15, 1898, when the USS Maine, an aging, undersized battleship, mysteriously blew up in Havana Harbor. The Hearst newspaper chain, in what we would think of today as “fake news” or “alternative facts,” created an inflammatory storyabout Spanish saboteurs having destroyed the warship. As was the case after the Pearl Harbor attack almost half a century later, the nation was suddenly galvanized into war. “Remember the Maine” became the battle cry; a young Theodore Roosevelt lead a daring charge up San Juan Hill, which later won him the Medal of Honor, and launched his political career.
As the Trump administration continues to work on rules to implement its new Cuba policy, Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control issued clarifications Tuesday on the U.S. interim policy.
HAVANA — Hanging in the office of a mechanics garage in central Havana, where Julio Álvarez has made a living off of renovating classic American cars and chauffeuring tourists around the island, a round yellow sign reads: “We use genuine Chevrolet parts.”
MIAMI--President Donald Trump's effort to reverse a historic opening between the U.S. and Cuba is raising tensions in South Florida's exile enclave, where wealthy patrons and institutions have sought to unify Cubans on both sides through unprecedented art exhibits.
Cuba’s historic cities, vibrant culture and sandy beaches were the star performers of the economy in the first half of the year, pulling in 23.2 percent more visitors than the first six months of 2016.
The public face of Cuba's diplomatic opening with the United States is leaving her post to become ambassador to Canada, officials said Sunday.
WASHINGTON--Jeff Flake sees an opening in Cuba.
MINAS DE MATAHAMBRE, Cuba (Reuters) - A new lead and zinc mine in northwestern Cuba is on track to start production in October as part of the Caribbean island's attempt to breathe fresh life in its mining sector, the joint venture Emincar overseeing the project said this week.
Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, has traveled to Cuba several times to explore the possibility of doing business on the island.
For decades, George Borjas, 66, has toiled in what was generally the quiet field of immigration labor econonics. His wonkish work was filled with dense mathematics that made him a leader in his field and led to a professorship at Harvard, while being completely unknown to the general public.
Ana and Víctor arrived worn out and weary on an early morning bus and made their way straight for the bridge across the Rio Grande into Texas. The Cuban couple headed toward the US immigration offices, where they planned to apply for political asylum.
As the clock ticked past midnight two years ago, the United States and Cuba officially reestablished diplomatic relations and later in the day that July 20, diplomatic missions in Washington and Havana once again became embassies.
WASHINGTON--Jeff Flake sees an opening in Cuba.
Visiting Cuba is always an emotional journey for poet Richard Blanco.
HAVANA — All around Havana, local Cuban entrepreneurs refer to the day President Trump unveiled his new policy toward the country simply as “June 16.”
After spending 33 years designated a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. government, Cuba no longer has any activity that even merits its own report in the State Department’s annual review of terrorist threats around the world.
HAVANA — In the heart of Old Havana along the city’s historic Cathedral Square, a restored colonial mansion housing a popular tourist restaurant is packed with travelers sipping mojitos and nibbling on plantain chips.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba's two-year-old financial crisis worsened during the first half of this year, and the country is having difficulty obtaining trade credits due to late payments to suppliers, according to Cuban Economy Minister Ricardo Cabrisas.
NAPLES, Fla. — When Paul Vangelakos heard President Trump would be announcing a plan to tighten restrictions on travel to Cuba, he thought, “Oh, shoot. I need to get on this right now.”
HAVANA, CUBA--Ileana Sánchez searched meticulously through her worn purse for cash to buy a small blackboard for her 7-year-old granddaughter, who dreams of being a teacher when she grows up.
Just like every president before him for more than two decades, President Donald Trump intends to suspend a section of the Helms-Burton Act that allows former owners of commercial property expropriated by Cuba to sue foreign companies and the Cuban government for using or “trafficking’ in those confiscated holdings.
Cuban President Raul Castro denounced President Donald Trump's tougher line on relations with Havana on Friday, calling it a setback but promising to continue working to normalize ties between the former Cold War rivals.
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HOUSTON/HAVANA (Reuters) - Venezuela's crude and fuel deliveries to Cuba have slid almost 13 percent in the first half this year, according to documents from state-run oil company PDVSA viewed by Reuters, threatening to worsen gasoline and power shortages in the communist-run island.
On June 16, 2017, President Donald Trump announced his new Cuba policy in a speech in Miami, declaring that he was “canceling” President Barack Obama’s opening to Havana. Here are eight things you need to know about what Trump did—and didn’t –do.
As U.S. officials prepare to implement President Trump’s Cuba policy, the rancor over the revised course is masking an emerging bipartisan consensus over American policy toward the island. Despite declaring he was “cancelling” President Obama’s deal with Cuba, Trump’s approach maintains the vast majority of steps the Obama Administration took.
MIAMI — Leaders of the Jewish community in Cuba have sent an open letter today to their “brothers and sisters” in the U.S. expressing concern that reversing policy towards the island could have an impact on religious institutions, which have benefited from increased ties between the countries.
In a reversal of the Obama administration’s historic effort to normalize US-Cuba relations, on June 16 President Trump announced his new, antagonistic policy—which includes restrictions on the abilities of US citizens to freely visit the island in the future. As Trump’s Treasury Department drafts the new regulations on how and where travelers can go in Cuba, The Nation asked four leading veterans of the travel-to-Cuba movement to comment on the new restrictions and their impact on the rights of US travelers and Cuban society at large.
The Institute of Cuban and Cuban-American Studies is at the center of a controversy between its outgoing director, Jaime Suchlicki, and the University of Miami, which has been its home for almost 20 years.
The U.S. Embassy in Cuba has a new interim chief at its seaside building in Havana: career diplomat Scott Hamilton.
HAVANA - Cubans will soon be heading to the polls to begin the process of determining a new leader.
Long before the Departments of State, Treasury, and Commerce finish writing the new regulations that President Trump ordered to restrict trade and travel to Cuba, the president will face another decision on relations with Havana that could be far more consequential for U.S. businesses. By July 16, he will have to decide whether to continue suspending certain provisions of Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (also known as Helms-Burton, after its sponsors).
Norwegian Cruise Line will expand its lineup of Cuba cruises in 2018 with new sailings out of Port Canaveral, Fla.
“Can Trump Compete With Obama on Cuba?,” by Jorge I. Domínguez (Op-Ed, nytimes.com, June 27), is an excellent analysis of President Trump’s Cuba policy from one of the foremost experts on United States-Cuba relations.
Cuba plans to produce 54,500 tonnes of nickel and cobalt sulfides this year, state-run television said at the weekend.

Panama's deputy minister of public security on Friday made a final offer to Cuban migrants staying at a temporary shelter in that nation: $1,650, a plane ticket to Havana and a multiple-entry visa that would give them legal entry to visit the Central American nation.
It has been nearly 17 years since Congress passed a law involving Cuba. The last time was in 2000 when the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act allowed food products to be sold to Cuba on a cash only basis as an exception to the comprehensive embargo.
Two weeks after President Donald Trump announced a rollback of U.S.-Cuba policies from the heart of Miami’s Little Havana, U.S. corporations are wary and at a standstill, wondering how the announcement will translate into regulations over the course of the next month.
HAVANA--For a dollar, Cuban podiatrist Serafin Barca will spend a half hour cutting the corns off a senior citizen’s foot, or nearly an hour removing a stubborn wart.
HAVANA — A joint U.S.-Cuban expedition to explore the island’s coral reefs uncovered a surprisingly healthy ecosystem and large schools of mackerel with significant commercial value, scientists involved in the mission said Tuesday.
Nidialys Acosta handles the booking for a loose association of vintage car owners who have banded together to offer transportation for visiting dignitaries and other groups. Clients have included a New York business delegation led by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and one of the founders of Airbnb.
Carlos Tabares, known as the Derek Jeter of Cuban baseball, is hanging it up this year at 42 after 20 years competing in Serie Nacional, the interprovince league that represents the best of baseball in a proud but grimly challenged country that still reveres the game.
Cuban authorities have made a move to reignite citizens' sex lives by reintroducing a series of state-run pay-per-hour motels which they hope will "diversify the options for love", the country's official trade union weekly Trabajadores announced on Monday.
June 2017
As President Trump announced the administration’s new policies on Cuba, I worried that Afro-Cubans would be the main losers. They have been losing for some time. The timid economic reforms implemented by the Cuban government in the past two decades have resulted in a growing gap between those with access to capital and those without it.
PANAMA CITY, PANAMA--The radio music broadcasts are amplified by the dozens of speakers positioned in businesses and homes. Salsa, reggaeton and merengue echoes through the narrow streets and mid-20th Century buildings.
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Carnival Paradise makes its inaugural 4-day trip to Cuba out of Port Tampa Bay Thursday morning.
President Donald Trump’s decision to prohibit U.S. transactions with Cuban enterprises controlled by the military has thrown a spotlight on the role of the armed forces in Cuba’s economy. That role is extensive, reaching across a number of different sectors, and it has grown in recent years along with Cuba’s tourism industry, where military-controlled firms are concentrated. These enterprises are managed by the holding company Grupo de Administración Empresarial S.A., GAESA, which reports to the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (MINFAR).
(Reuters) - Southwest Airlines Co said it would reduce the number of flights to Cuba, joining other U.S. airlines, as President Donald Trump's Cuba policy continues to restrict Americans traveling to the country.
President Donald Trump's new policy on Cuba travel has winners and losers: Group tour operators hope to sell more trips, but bed-and-breakfast owners in Cuba say they're losing business.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — “Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.” Thus said President Trump on June 16 in Miami to wildly enthusiastic applause from the remaining veterans of the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. Yet, in practice, Obama administration policies toward Cuba remain in effect. President Trump has set up political, bureaucratic and diplomatic bargaining for months to come.
HAVANA - For U.S.-based airlines, the coming months will be a wait-and-see game after President Donald Trump announced a new policy toward Cuba that some argue might hinder American travel to the island nation.
William LeoGrande, an American University professor who specializes in U.S.-Cuba relations, says it appears there might be a “poison pill” in President Donald Trump’s new Cuba policy that potentially could cut off remittances to more than 1 million Cubans.
Some U.S. executives that do business with Cuba breathed a sigh of relief after President Donald Trump outlined his new Cuba policy in Miami because it won’t have much impact on their companies. But others have pressed the pause button until they see how the new regulations implementing the changes are written.
Last week, President Donald Trump announced his outrage at Cuba’s poor human rights record. On his recent Mideast trip the president did not even mention the issue in totalitarian Saudi Arabia. But of Cuba, he declared: “We will not be silent in the face of Communist oppression any longer.” A cynic might observe that more Cuban-Americans than Saudi-Americans voted for him last November.
HAVANA (Reuters) - Minnesota's government and businesses will continue to engage with Cuba in the areas they can, like agricultural trade, despite U.S. President Donald Trump's partial rollback of the detente, Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith said on Thursday.
The director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, the U.S. federal body that oversees Radio and TV Martí as well as the Martí Noticias website, resigned last week amid complaints by some dissidents and exiles about OCB’s editorial line.
Opposition to President Donald Trump’s new policy on Cuba is growing and gathering support among different communities.
Dr. Alberto Hernandez, a former president of the Cuban American National Foundation, died June 16 in Miami. His family said one of the top leaders of the Cuban exile community had three passions: family, medicine and a free Cuba.
Last week, in Miami, to the cheers of American hard-liners, President Trump announced a reversal of the Obama administration’s “terrible and misguided deal” with Cuba. With the swipe of a pen, decades old trade and travel restrictions were reinstated, dashing hopes for normalized relations in the near future.
There is a poison pill hidden in President Donald Trump’s National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) on Cuba that could deprive over a million Cuban families of access to remittances from their relatives abroad—a declaration of economic war on the very people that Trump claims his policy will empower.
Engagement or embargo? That is the question not just in Cuba but also in places like Iran, Russia, and China. Should we trade, or should we withhold our trade in hopes of changing the behavior of other nations? Which will have more impact?
On June 16, speaking from the heart of the Cuban exile community in Little Havana, President Donald Trump declared that he would be “cancelling” plans to ease relations with Cuba, a historic policy initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama in 2014 to end decades of Cold War-era hostilities between the two countries. It did not matter that Trump himself once explored (possibly illegal) commercial opportunities on the island, or that early in his presidential campaign he said normalization was “fine.” In an effort to appeal to the dwindling number of hardline supporters of the U.S. embargo in Miami who had thrown their support behind him in last year’s election, Trump forged ahead, denouncing Obama’s policies on Cuba as “terrible and misguided.” In doing so, he defied the wishes of roughly 63 percent of Cuban Americans who oppose the embargo, to say nothing of Cubans on the island.
Just as travel and tourism to Cuba from the United States was heating up, President Donald Trump made an announcement last Friday that will cool it down, probably way down. He said he was "canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba."
In light of President Trump’s announcement that he would double down on the Cuban embargo that failed to force Havana to capitulate for nearly six decades, the question is not whether Cuban society will change. It has and it will. It is whether the Cuban people can count on America as a partner or an adversary as it does.
PEARSALL, Texas — Rafael Herrera trekked across five countries in Central and South America, dodged unscrupulous border guards and smugglers and spent thousands of dollars to flee communist oppression in his native Cuba and start a new life in the USA.
U.S. President Donald Trump's speech on Cuba was a "grotesque spectacle," but the island's government will continue working towards better relations with the majority of Americans who back detente, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Monday.
Noting the hostile rhetoric of President Donald Trump in his Miami speech and saying the United States was in no position to be giving lessons on human rights, Cuba still extended an olive branch and said it wanted to continue a dialogue with its neighbor to the north.
HAVANA — When Julia de la Rosa heard President Trump's speech restricting Americans' ability to visit Cuba, she immediately started calculating how many workers she'll have to fire.
Ben Rhodes, a former White House aide who helped craft President Obama's Cuba policy, on Sunday slammed President Trump's decision to reverse Obama-era efforts to warm relations with Havana, saying that Trump and some GOP lawmakers "don't believe in freedom."
PANAMA CITY, PANAMA--The Panamanian government has a proposal for a group of Cubans stranded in that country: return voluntarily to the island, become self-employed entreprenuers known as cuentapropistas and, in exchange, obtain multiple entry visas and even start-up capital — still to be determined — for investment purposes.
President Trump’s announcement today indicates how far the Cuba policy debate has moved, despite intense pressure from scarce congressional hardliners. Many of the gains of normalization remain intact. At best, this is a partial victory for those who hoped to reverse increased bilateral ties. However, the Cuba Study Group reiterates its view that the completely free flow of people, ideas, information, and goods helps, rather than hinders, the cause of meaningful reform on the island. We therefore urge President Trump to reject the half-measures he proposed today and pursue a policy of full normalization with the island.
In an overhaul of one of his predecessor’s signature legacies, President Donald Trump will redraw U.S. policy toward Cuba on Friday, tightening travel restrictions for Americans that had been loosened under President Barack Obama and banning U.S. business transactions with Cuba’s vast military conglomerate.
Several prominent free market advocates sent a letter to President Trump Wednesday discouraging the anticipated announcement to add travel and trade restrictions with Cuba.
Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart sat in the Oval Office last month, surrounded by two Cabinet secretaries, the national security adviser and an array of top White House staff, and asked President Donald Trump to put his power behind their plans for Cuba.
MIAMI — When President Trump travels to this Cuban-American enclave on Friday to announce curbs on recent U.S. ties with Cuba, he'll be flanked by supporters of his moves and confronted by protesters opposed to his rollback of one of President Barack Obama's signature achievements.
This week, President Trump is expected to announce his new policy toward Cuba. If his decision is to roll back the policy of engagement begun by President Obama – as press reports indicate is likely – it would not only harm U.S. businesses and the Cuban people, it would leave a gaping vacuum just 90 miles offshore, for our adversaries to fill.
Throughout the presidential campaign and since taking office, President Donald Trump and his staff have characterized the Obama administration’s policy toward Cuba as a “bad deal” for Americans. There were several reports during the campaign, however, that the Trump Organization had been exploring business in Cuba, with some indicating that such explorations were in direct violation of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
President Donald Trump is expected to visit Miami Friday, where he will announce what is already highly anticipated to be a tightening of the rules on trade and travel enacted under former President Barack Obama.
President Trump is right in that the Obama administration's opening to Cuba has failed to produce any human rights or democratic changes on the island, but I'm afraid that Trump's plan to partially reverse the current U.S. policy will make things worse.
In the most serious political fight possible — the presidential one — Sen. Marco Rubio referred to then candidate Donald Trump as “a con man.” Nothing more true has ever come from the senator’s lips.
(Washington, DC) – Reversing the Obama administration’s changes in United States policy toward Cuba will not improve respect for human rights on the island, Human Rights Watch said today.
Cuban-American members of Congress have been pushing the Trump administration to restrict deals between U.S. companies and Cuban firms controlled by the island's military, as part of the new Trump policy toward Cuba expected to be announced this week in Miami.
Havana, Cuba (CNN)For Cuban officials on the front lines of the fight against drug trafficking, the Trump administration's threat to roll back improved relations between the United States and the communist-run island comes at a dangerous moment.
As President Donald Trump weighs rolling back some of the Cuba normalization policies begun during the Obama administration, a new poll finds a majority of Republicans would oppose such a move.
Your trip to Havana might have to wait!
Two groups of pro-Cuba engagement House and Senate Republicans each sent letters to President Donald Trump and members of his administration, respectively, asking for Cuba to remain open in the wake of reports the administration is leaning toward reversing its policy on the island nation.
Rumor has it that those who have long supported the policy of isolation over engagement are pushing the Trump Administration to impose new restrictions on American citizens who travel to Cuba. For the sake of the Cuban people, whose everyday struggle under a communist government is difficult enough without the U.S. government pulling the rug out from under their livelihoods, I sincerely hope that these rumors aren’t true.
If President Donald Trump chooses to reverse course with Cuba and move back to the isolationist policies imposed on the island nation under former President Dwight Eisenhower, he could effectively be giving Russian President Vladimir Putin a gift on a silver platter.
We, civic and business leaders representing the views of the majority of the Cuban-American community,[1] write to communicate our strong desire that your administration continue normalizing relations with Cuba. We strongly believe it would be a mistake if the U.S. reversed the steady progress made toward normalization. Returning to a policy of isolation would only contravene the wishes of most Cubans and Cuban-Americans and threaten U.S. national security, commercial opportunities, and jobs.
It may be hard to fathom outside of Miami, but the faraway island of Cuba and Cuban-American politics could have played a role in Thursday’s historic hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
For more than two years, Americans have been freer to travel and do business in Cuba than at any time in the previous five decades. Now, however, the Trump administration is considering restoring the restrictions on travel and trade that president Barack Obama relaxed in 2014. Insiders say the decision might be presented as a defense of human rights in Cuba, but will in reality be an attempt by Trump buy some support for his other Washington battles.
Less than a year after passenger flights restarted between the United States and Cuba, the future of Cuban travel is once again up in the air.
Towering cranes dot the Havana skyline as communist-run Cuba races to build luxury hotels, amid indignation among some residents and concern that U.S. President Donald Trump might reverse a detente that fueled the tourist boom.
President Trump has a knack for bad optics. The day after he fired FBI Director James Comey in hopes of taking the pressure off the investigation into whether his campaign colluded with the Kremlin during the 2016 election, Trump received Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office. Now, as Comey prepares to testify before Congress about Trump’s request that the FBI halt the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia, the president is preparing to announce a Cuba policy that would clear the way for Moscow to re-establish itself as Cuba’s principal foreign patron.
To unveil President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Cuba policy, his young administration had eyed a day brimming with symbolism: May 20, Cuban Independence Day.
To the long list of Barack Obama’s major initiatives that President Trump is obsessed with reversing, we may soon be able to add Cuba. In 2014, Mr. Obama opened a dialogue with Cuba after more than a half-century of unyielding hostility, leading to an easing of sanctions. Mr. Trump promised in his campaign to return to a more hard-line approach. If he does, as seems likely, he will further isolate America, hurt American business interests and, quite possibly, impede the push for greater democracy on the Caribbean island.
The new American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora is striking in its architectural resemblance to the grand colonial houses of Havana, yet has a modern Miami flair. From the imposing stairwell to the natural light that bathes the halls and bounces off sparkling white marble floors, The Cuban is a jewel.
Cruise lines and airlines stand to lose $3.5 billion and more than 10,000 jobs over the course of President Donald Trump’s four-year term if the administration fully rolls back all of the United States’ Cuba regulations, according to a report by nonprofit Engage Cuba.
HAVANA (Reuters) - With less than a year until Raul Castro steps down as president, Cuba's parliament approved documents on Thursday confirming the Communist Party as the country's guiding force and banning the concentration of private property and wealth.
Miami U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo supports imposing a two-percent tax on sales of agricultural products to Cuba, to be used to compensate property owners confiscated by the island government.
HAVANA (AP) — A handful of entrepreneurs have quietly formed communist Cuba's first private small business association, testing the government's willingness to allow Cubans to organize outside the strict bounds of state control.
May 2017
President Trump is weighing whether to take a harder line with Cuba, potentially risking the thaw in relations started by the last administration.
Republican Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart leveraged his vote on the recent Obamacare repeal legislation in an effort to gain concessions from President Trump on Cuban policy, according to The Daily Caller’s sources.
U.S. President Donald Trump may find it hard to walk back his predecessor’s historic rapprochement with Cuba, now that various businesses are invested in revived relations with Havana.
Washington D.C. - The Cuba Study Group partnered with celebrated Cuban economist Dr. Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva, formerly a Professor of Economics and Researcher at the University of Havana’s Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy, to produce a White Paper analyzing the current status and future prospects of the Cuban economy. The document also discusses practical steps the Cuban government can take within the short term to improve its economy.
The congressional battle between lawmakers from farming states and Cuban American colleagues on funding food exports to Cuba could be coming to an end thanks to an “elegant” solution that is part of proposed legislation: a 2 percent user fee on agricultural products sold to the island that would be used to compensate those who have certified claims of properties confiscated by the Cuban government.
President Donald Trump is mulling a reversal of Cuba policies enacted by former president Barack Obama that soften the U.S.’ stance towards the country, including the rescinding of the ‘wet foot, dry foot’ immigration policy.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators reintroduced legislation on Thursday to repeal all restrictions on travel to Cuba, this time attracting far more co-sponsors in a sign of growing support for U.S.-Cuban detente even as its future looks uncertain.
The Cuba Study Group wholeheartedly supports the introduction of the Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeffry Flake (R-AZ), and 53 additional bipartisan co-sponsors.
Less than three years after former U.S. President Barack Obama and former Cuban president Raul Castro announced a mutual agreement to thaw relations between the former adversarial countries, companies are asking President Donald Trump not to reverse the progress made.
HAVANA--Men sit on the steps and play a hand of cards, women chat outside barred windows, stray dogs missing tufts of fur trot by.
USAID programs in Cuba, which have been highly controversial in recent years, aren't funded under the Trump administration's proposed State Department budget for Fiscal Year 2018.
As the internet becomes more widespread in Cuba, online start-ups are emerging. But the problems many of the companies hope to address are also a reminder of how far the island has to go.
Expedia said on Tuesday it had started offering online booking for hotels in Communist-run Cuba, hoping to capitalize on a boom in tourism to the Caribbean island.
Cuban diplomats have been traveling across the United States so frequently since President Donald Trump took office that the slogan of the Cuban Embassy in Washington could be “See America First.”
After much anticipation that an announcement on Cuba policy changes would be made no later than Saturday, President Donald Trump — in the midst of various political crises — has not decided what to do, officials said.
Cuba said on Thursday 1,847 residents had so far contracted the mosquito-borne Zika virus, warning that certain provinces on the Caribbean island still had high rates of infestation despite a series of measures to stave off the epidemic.
On May 10, a tanker with a full load of Russian crude oil made its way across the Atlantic Ocean and docked in Cuba — the largest petroleum shipment from Russia to Cuba since the Cold War. The previous October, Russia’s defense minister announced Moscow was considering reopening military bases in Cuba — its first official return to the island since 2002. The Chinese are getting in on the action as well: China is both Cuba’s largest trading partner and the largest holder of Cuban government debt. The Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei is in direct competition with Google to provide internet access throughout Cuba — a high-stakes commercial battle that could determine whether Cubans have access to an open internet or one controlled by the government.
As Cuba becomes more accessible, entrepreneurs there are finding new ways to reach users and build businesses. Today at TechCrunch Disrupt NY, we got the perspective of a trio of Cuban entrepreneurs to learn about the challenges they face in building businesses as the country gradually opens up to the outside world.
Like its music, like its art, Cuba is a complex, colorful mash-up of dichotomous ideas, cultures and emotions.