Barack Obama

Common Cause-Embassy of Venezuela DC/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

Roberta Jacobson is burning up Twitter in English and Spanish this week trying to recover President Obama’s fumble on Venezuela.

She’s worried – and gosh, we can’t imagine why – that left-wing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is giving his people the wrong impression about Obama’s ill-advised announcement on Monday that Venezuela is a “national security threat” to the U.S.

With the Department of Homeland Security’s funding deadline less than a month away, Republicans and Democrats are gearing up for what may be the next stage in Congress’ fight on President Obama’s immigration policies.

House Republicans have already passed their own version of DHS funding that would also block the president’s November immigration orders and deport up to four million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

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:

Wikimedia Commons

President Obama’s annual State of the Union address aired Tuesday night. It’s customary for the president, the first lady and congresspeople to invite guests to the address, and Florida viewers may have recognize a few names and faces. The guests ran the gamut from former political prisoners to activists.

ALAN AND JUDY GROSS

The president invited aid contractor and recently freed Cuban political prisoner Alan Gross and his wife, Judy, to Tuesday evening’s address.

Rick Stone

President Obama's America's College Promise would provide free community college tuition for two years to students who keep their grades up, stay in school and show progress toward graduation.

As he introduced it this month, the president presented it as a logical extension of the nation's free public school system, updated for the education requirements of the modern economy.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

The leaders of two of the nation’s largest community colleges say they support President Barack Obama's proposal to give students two years of college for free.

Obama proposed the idea in Tennessee Friday.

In a written statement, Broward College president J. David Armstrong says the proposal could mean more training for teachers, nurses, paramedics, firefighters and police. That's good for the economy, he says.

WLRN

Miami is not a top departure point for American goods headed to Cuba. So say the official U.S. government trade statistics. Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale is the second-largest American port from which goods are sent to Cuba.

Yes, despite the 53-year-old trade embargo, America still does a little business with Cuba. The U.S. sells fresh and frozen chicken, soybeans, corn and an assortment of other food and medical supplies. 

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.

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.”

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.

Rick Stone

President Obama's announced opening to Cuba this week touched off vehement reactions in parts of South Florida's Cuban community. But it also exposed generational rifts that may have put time limits on the political potency of the Cuba issue.

Many in the traditional exile community believe the president caved to the Castro government and gave away much more than the U.S. would receive for opening diplomatic relations and scaling back the embargo.

How Social Media Reacted To The Cuba Announcement

Dec 18, 2014
Al Diaz / Miami Herald

President Barack Obama shook up a half-century of U.S.-Cuba relations Wednesday, announcing the two countries had agreed to start normalizing relations. Obama wants to set up an embassy in Havana, loosen travel restrictions and allow more trade between the two countries.

South Florida's Cuban-American delegation in Congress criticized the announcement -- calling Obama the "Appeaser-in-Chief." Protesters shouted down the president in Little Havana.

Tonight at 6 p.m., WLRN-Miami Herald News will host an hour-long special program on President Obama's announcement regarding normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba.

You can participate in the live chat below and listen live on 91.3 FM, WLRN.org, the official WLRN app in the App Store, or by listening to the show through iTunes.

AP

The most tectonic shift in U.S.-Cuba relations in half a century – and the release of a U.S. citizen from a Cuban prison – were brought about thanks largely to the most famous man in the world (the Pope) and to a man whose identity we may never know.

Day Donaldson and Edgar Alberto Domínguez Cataño / Flickr

Coincidence or communiqué?

When President Obama issued his executive action on immigration last week, including his decision to halt the deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants, some of his foes noted the date: Nov. 20.

Nov. 20 commemorates the start of the Mexican Revolution 104 years ago. So Americans for Legal Immigration PAC wondered if the president purposely chose that day as a way of “comparing his new immigration orders to the violent Mexican revolution and civil war.”

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