Sonora Carruseles / Facebook

Maybe you’ve never heard of the Miami salsa band Sonora Carruseles. But President Obama has. This week he put one of the group’s songs on his summer playlist – and the Colombian-American ensemble is obscure no more.

Courtesy U.S. Embassy in Honduras

President Obama is asking Congress for $1 billion in new aid for Central America – especially violence-plagued countries like Honduras. One big goal is to reduce the massive waves of illegal immigration to the U.S., which we’re seeing in South Florida.

While in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa last week, I spoke with U.S. Ambassador James Nealon about how the Administration hopes to make this plan work – and about Washington’s growing realization that solving illegal immigration means improving conditions at its source rather than building walls at our border.

Updated at 11:25 a.m. ET

Secretary of State John Kerry presided over a ceremony reopening the U.S. Embassy in Havana, including a flag-raising ceremony — an event that will mark the first time the Stars and Stripes have flown over a diplomatic compound there in 54 years.

Kerry, speaking before assembled dignitaries, remembered the strained history of U.S.-Cuba relations, including the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when the Soviet Union was discovered to be siting nuclear rockets on the island nation.

If you want to get a sense of how complex racial identity is in Brazil, you should meet sisters Francine and Fernanda Gravina. Both have the same mother and father. Francine, 28, is blond with green eyes and white skin. She wouldn't look out of place in Iceland. But Fernanda, 23, has milk chocolate skin with coffee colored eyes and hair. Francine describes herself as white, whereas Fernanda says she's morena, or brown-skinned.

The Ybor City Chamber of Commerce is using renewed relations between the Obama Administration and government of Cuba to re-establish the link between the “Cigar City” and Havana.

Larry Wilder is chairman of the chamber.  He said Havana and Ybor are a natural fit since the Cuban capital pretty much gave birth to Tampa's cigar industry when so many cigar workers moved here in the late 1800s.

David Gilkey / NPR


Last week I slammed the Dominican Republic for risking its global image with an immigration policy that has unjustly made hundreds of thousands of Haitian-Dominicans targets for deportation.

Tim Padgett /

Five years ago today, Wyclef Jean – the Haitian-American hip-hop star whose 2004 hit song mused, “If I was President” – revealed in an interview with me that he was actually running for President. Of Haiti.

Rebecca Blackwell / AP via Miami Herald


You don’t need to be a detective to know that the Dominican Republic has already begun deporting Haitian-Dominicans.

International media report this week that tent cities are sprouting up at towns like Anse-à-Pitres on Haiti’s side of its border with the D.R. This morning I spoke by phone with Mia Pean, a Haitian-American relief worker who lives near Anse-à-Pitres. Her organization just received a group of Haitian-Dominican youths who say they were deported from the D.R. a few days ago – even though they claim they were born there.

We’ve gotten used to hearing about chronic shortages in Venezuela – everything from food to medicine to condoms. Those hit Venezuelans where they live. Now there's a looming shortage that hits Venezuelans where they relax: Cerveza. Beer.

This is bad news for customers at Arepas, a Venezuelan sports bar in Miami Beach. They love ice-cold Polar – which is Venezuela’s most popular beer and a brand that’s well known outside the country as well.

Andrew Harnik / AP

When Cuba opened its  Washington D.C.  embassy yesterday, the moment wasn’t just historic.

It also felt really ironic.

Historic, of course, because Cuba was raising its flag over the U.S. capital for the first time in 54 years. When the U.S. inaugurates its embassy in Havana on August 14, it will be the crowning moment in the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two Cold War enemies.

But this might be a déja vu moment, too, because a big reason the U.S. and Cuba severed ties in 1961 was...embassies.