You might assume that with the thawing of relations between Cuba and the U.S., Cubans would see positive change at home, and less reason to attempt the perilous water crossing to Florida. You'd assume wrong.

U.S. law enforcement authorities are confronting a surge of Cuban migrants trying to make the journey by boat across the Florida Straits; it's the highest numbers they've seen in two decades.


This week on The Florida Roundup...

King Tides are a natural, seasonal occurrence when the sun and moon align to pull the tides higher than normal, typically by a couple of feet. But, with sea-level rise caused by climate change, this seasonal event may become a regular occurrence. So, how should we begin preparing for it in South Florida? WLRN's Kate Stein, Miami Herald reporter Jenny Staletovich and Broward County's Chief Climate Resilience Officer Dr. Jennifer Jurado address this concern.

Listen Here:

The product that helped define Tampa will face new competition under an executive order issued on Friday by the Obama administration.

The directive lifts the $100 limit on Cuban cigars that travelers can bring into the U.S., which could spell trouble for the last operating cigar factory in Tampa.

As of Monday, U.S. citizens who travel to Cuba will no longer be limited to bringing back goods worth up to $400 — including $100 worth of tobacco and alcohol. President Obama ordered the changes, which also clear the way for Cuban-origin pharmaceuticals to gain U.S. regulatory approval.

Instead of those special quotas, normal limits on Americans' importation of foreign products for personal use will apply.

Ramon Espinosa / AP

Rain fell across much of Cuba Thursday as the arduous task of recovering from Hurricane Matthew's devastating march across the island's easternmost tip cranked up.

In Baracoa, where some homes were reduced to tinder and the power grid was severely damaged, work brigades, communications crews and linesmen began arriving from Las Tunas, Camagüey and Guantànamo soon after high winds subsided on Wednesday. 

Members of the Cuban military also were helping remove boulders and other debris that made some roads impassable.

Dieu Naleio Chery / AP via Miami Herald

The news from Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew is certainly bad – especially on Haiti’s southwest peninsula. But it's perhaps not all as bad as it could have been for the rest of the western hemisphere's poorest country.

Matthew pounded southwest Haiti on Tuesday with winds of 145 miles per hour and more than 20 inches of rain. At least five deaths have been reported there - and low-lying cities like Les Cayes suffered catastrophic flooding that’s forced 15,000 people from their homes.

Cuba's Top Negotiator To Hold Twitter Q & A

Sep 30, 2016
Ismael Francisco / AP

Josefina Vidal, Cuba's chief negotiator in the rapprochement with the United States, will host a Q&A session on Twitter from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Erika Beras

In the last few years, thousands of Cubans have left the island for South American countries. From there, they make their way north, trekking thousands of miles, hoping to get to the United States.

Last year, 29,000 Cubans crossed the border from Mexico into Texas — quadrupling the total from a decade ago. Now the numbers are even higher.

Heidy Vera, a young Cuban woman, made that journey in 2015. She then headed to Miami, where Cubans have settled for generations.

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

Revelations that Donald Trump’s hotel and casino company secretly spent money trying to do business in Cuba in violation of the U.S. trade embargo roiled Miami politics Thursday, forcing top Cuban-American Republicans to express concern about Trump’s dealings while maintaining that the allegation isn’t reason enough to disavow the presidential nominee yet.

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald


Politics makes desperate bedfellows.

So it's not such a big surprise that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Miami Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, also a Republican, appear to have finally slipped under the same campaign sheets.

Tim Padget /

President Obama’s policy of normalizing relations with communist Cuba enjoys larger than expected support among Cubans in Miami-Dade County, according to a new poll.

Florida International University’s biannual Cuba Poll shows almost two-thirds, or 64 percent, of Miami-Dade’s Cuban cohort back normalization, which Obama announced in December 2014. Sixty-nine percent back last year’s re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Kyle Holsten / WLRN

 This week, there is confusion, fear and anger in Miami Beach -- one of two Miami-Dade county zika transmission hot spots. The cause of the public outcry? The pre-dawn aerial spraying for zika-carrying mosquitoes that began this morning.  Round two of that spraying is set for Sunday.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

There was a lot of celebration – and not a little hype – last week when JetBlue took the first U.S. commercial flight into Cuba in more than 50 years.

It was another big step in the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations. But beneath all the airborne cheering is the grim reality that Cuba’s economic wings have been all but clipped. 

Ramón Espinosa / Associated Press

On Wednesday morning,  Gate Number 10 at Fort Lauderdale’s Airport was buzzing with reporters and airport and airline-officials. They all wanted to give the first scheduled passenger jet service from the United State to Cuba in  more than 50 years a proper send-off: JetBlue-flight 387 was scheduled to leave for Santa Clara, 175 miles east of Havana, at 9:45 am.

Shying away from the spotlight while officials gave speeches was one of the pilots. First Officer Francisco Barreras is 54 years old. His parents came from Cuba in 1961.

Hector Gabino / El Nuevo Herald

Jet Blue made history on Tuesday morning with its flight  from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara, Cuba - the first U.S. commercial flight to Cuba in 55 years.