Americas

Latin America Report
10:10 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Obama's Top Negotiator In Cuba Says Human Rights, Private Sector Will Be U.S. Drumbeat

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson (center) meets with Cuban dissidents last week in Havana.
Credit State Department

Here’s one indicator of how much things have changed between the United States and Cuba:

When President Obama announced last month that he planned to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba’s communist regime after a half-century of bitter estrangement, no one heard from former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. And no one really cared.

Here’s another:

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Roberta Jacobson
1:24 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Cuba Talks: Capitalism Vs. Communism, Rights Vs. Repression

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson speaks with journalists at the Miami Herald newsroom on Saturday.
Credit Roberto Koltun / El Nuevo Herald

This past weekend, the top U.S. negotiator in the talks to normalize relations with communist Cuba stopped in Miami on her way back from Havana.

She briefed journalists from the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and WLRN about the historic negotiations – but she seemed more impressed by what she saw at lunch.

Roberta Jacobson is the assistant U.S. secretary of state for the western hemisphere. Last week in Havana, she and her delegation kicked off talks with Cuban officials to restore diplomatic ties, which were severed 54 years ago. 

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U.S.-Cuba Relations
5:10 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Top U.S. Negotiator Meets With Cuban Dissidents About Rights After Havana Talks

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson (center) meets with Cuban dissidents Friday in Havana.
Credit State Department

The U.S. and Cuba have wrapped up the first round of historic talks to re-establish diplomatic relations. But the lead U.S. negotiator stayed on in Havana today to meet with dissidents and address Cuba’s human rights record.

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Latin America Report
9:13 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Now Starts The Hard Part Of Pulling The U.S. And Cuba Out Of Their Cold-War Time Warp

A car in Havana sports Cuban and U.S. flags in advance of talks there to normalize relations between the two countries.
Credit Day Donaldson / Flickr/Creative Commons

Like Michael J. Fox struggling to power his DeLorean back to the future, the United States and Cuba on Wednesday start the labor of propelling their relations out of a Cold-War time warp and into the 21st Century.

Senior officials from both sides will meet in Havana to make history. They’ll launch talks to re-establish diplomatic ties that were severed 54 years ago in the wake of Cuba’s communist revolution.

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Politics
12:16 am
Fri January 16, 2015

As Obama Rushes To Post New Cuba Trade And Travel Regs, Will Havana Reciprocate?

A car in Havana sports Cuban and U.S. flags in advance of talks there to normalize relations between the two countries.
Credit Day Donaldson / Flickr Creative Commons

On Thursday President Obama finalized a big part of his efforts to normalize relations with communist Cuba. And they take effect Friday, much earlier than expected. They include loosening travel and trade restrictions – but the question from those who know the Havana regime well is: Will Cuba loosen up too?

The new regs make it much easier for Americans to travel to Cuba and spend money there. They can even use U.S. credit cards. They can also do more business with Cubans – export capital goods like telecom equipment and help finance small Cuban enterprises.

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Latin America Report
12:27 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Why It's Time For A Reality Check On Normalizing Relations With Cuba

An unidentified Cuban exile speaks out against President Obama's plans to normalize relations with Cuba at a downtown Miami rally on December 30.
Credit Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

What President Obama did on December 17 was hardly going to prevent what Cuban leader Raúl Castro did on December 30.

Obama last month announced plans to normalize relations with communist Cuba, which were severed 54 years ago. As if to test the waters in the wake of that historic decision, a new Cuban dissident group called Yo También Exijo (I Also Demand) called a free-speech gathering in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución for December 30.

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Feature
10:57 pm
Sun January 11, 2015

Haiti's Tragic Anniversary – And A Political Earthquake To Boot?

A Haitian woman walks by a new U.S.-built housing development in Caracol, Haiti, for displaced earthquake victims.
Credit Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Five years ago today Haiti – the western hemisphere’s poorest country – was devastated by an earthquake that killed some 300,000 people. Haitian officials, the U.S. and other donor countries promised to “build back Haiti better.” But so far the question is whether they’ve been able to build back Haiti… much at all.

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News
10:45 pm
Sun January 11, 2015

Vatican Casts Spotlight On Haiti Five Years After Earthquake

Sacred Heart Catholic Church in ruins after the Haiti earthquake. A crucifix is left standing.
Credit Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Monsignor Augustin Almy was in Haiti five years ago when the earthquake hit. When the country’s Catholic Church fell apart along with most of Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010.

Almy, a priest at St. James Catholic Church in North Miami, was visiting Haiti for his mother’s 100th birthday.

He was in his room at the Port-au-Prince seminary where he worked for years before moving to South Florida.

“I see the house shaking,” he said.

It was 4:53 pm.

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Latin America Report
3:04 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

China Proves Obama Right On Cuba! And Other Top Latin America Stories Of 2014

As far as I’m concerned, one of the year’s most important Latin American stories happened this week in China.

Yep, communist China. On Monday the government’s Internet watchdragon, known as the Great Firewall, pulled the plug on Gmail because it's a subversive instrument of free speech and dissent.

In the process, Beijing affirmed President Obama’s historic decision this month to pursue a policy of engagement with communist Cuba.

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Americas
8:54 am
Mon December 29, 2014

The Nicaragua Canal: A Waterway To Development Or Disaster?

Protesters clash with police during demonstrations against the construction of a cross-isthmus canal in Nicaragua.
Credit Jorge Mejia Peralta / Flickr

  The Panama Canal marked its centennial this year. But another place engineers have always wanted to build a waterway across Central America is Nicaragua. Construction on a Nicaragua canal started last week – and so did protests, there and here.

The Nicaragua Grand Canal, as it’s called, will cost an estimated $50 billion. And at 173 miles it will be more than five times longer than the Panama Canal.

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The Latin America Report
9:55 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Mexican Miami: South Florida's Surging Immigrant Group Shines At Christmas

Mexican-Americans in Homestead (and Paco, right) portray Biblical Christmas characters during street processions known as Las Posadas
Credit Edward Garza / Mexican-American Council

South Florida’s best known Christmas traditions involve food. La caja china. Hallacas. But one of the richest customs involves street theater – plus a really cool donkey named Paco – and it reflects the increasingly important role Mexicans play in this region today.

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Cuba
9:04 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Cuban Emigré Helps U.S. Companies Prepare For An Embargo-less Future

Emilio Morales doing Cuba market research.
Credit Tim Padgett / WLRN

Now that President Obama wants to normalize U.S. relations with communist Cuba, the big question is: Can the U.S. trade embargo last much longer? WLRN Americas editor Tim Padgett spoke to a Cuban émigré here in South Florida who doesn’t think so – and who’s helping U.S. companies prepare for an embargo-less future:

“It’s like a storm now. A storm. I finished work last night at one o’clock in the morning.”

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Opinion
12:37 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

The Cuba Illusion Has Vanished – And Now The Embargo Should Too

Cuban women walk by wall graffiti in Havana.
Credit Flickr

In the wake of the historic Cuba policy changes President Obama ordered yesterday, Congress will now debate whether to scuttle the failed, 52-year-old trade embargo against the communist island.

Capitol Hill should indeed ditch it – and if it’s looking for reasons, it should consider some of the repulsive folks Washington has had to engage this year.

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Latin America Report
2:33 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Why Latin America's Richest Man Still Needs To Raise His Giving Game

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim (right) with former U.S. President Bill Clinton (center) and Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos at the Future of the Americas conference.
Credit Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

When I met Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim six years ago, he was the world’s richest man.

Slim, however, wasn’t the world’s most generous giver. He was called the Latin American Scrooge because he’d steered such a relatively small share of his then $65 billion fortune to philanthropic causes. In our interview at his Mexico City office, he said he was correcting that – and he read a passage from “The Prophet” by the Christian philosopher Kahlil Gibran:

“Give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.”

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News
4:12 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Will Haiti PM's Resignation Defuse The Political Crisis? Don't Count On It

At the time this photo was shot, Jan. 8, 2014, Haiti's then-Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe talked about the many challenges ahead for his country.
Credit Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Yesterday’s resignation of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe was supposed to help end Haiti’s long and sometimes violent political crisis. Don’t get your hopes up.

Most Haitians weren’t even awake when Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s taped resignation speech was televised at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. The government blamed technical difficulties for the delay.

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