Cuba

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  Six small catamarans lined up on the beach in Key West at sunrise Tuesday, heading into 17 mph winds to cross the Straits of Florida.

  It was the second edition of the Havana Challenge, where sailors from Key West ventured into the Gulf Stream to visit Cuba.

In last year's race, one boat sank, one broke apart and three others limped into the harbor. Rio O'Bryan was hoping for better luck this year.

"We sank on the way over last year, so we're trying to make it all the way this time," he said.

Keeping Up With the Kardashians / Via Instagram

This week Chanel brought its haute couture fashion show to Havana. But if you think the whole Cuba chic trend has become a bit too much, a prominent Miami politician has the quote of the week for you.

Ricardo Arduengo / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

As the waters of the Florida Straits warm up again, a new surge of Cuban rafters is landing in Florida. Sixty arrived in Key West in just the past week, in large part to escape the island’s moribund economy.

But Cubans aren’t the only panicked wave hitting our peninsula. Florida’s Puerto Rican population now tops 1 million, more than double the number in 2000. And they keep coming, thanks to a massive economic crisis in Puerto Rico that forced the government to default on a big chunk of a $422 million debt payment that was due Monday.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

After weeks of controversy – and a surprising change by Cuban President Raúl Castro – the first U.S. cruise ship in more than 50 years set sail for Cuba on Sunday.

But this was a historic maiden voyage that almost never left port. That’s because the Miami-based Carnival cruise line became the target of protests last month by Cuban-Americans, who were angry about a Cuban rule that barred anyone born in Cuba from entering the island by sea.

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

Since the U.S. and Cuba normalized relations, we’ve seen a lot of dialogue between government officials and business executives. But what about artists?

Fifteen artists from Cuba are in Miami this week as part of a new exchange project called Dialogues in Cuban Art.

It’s organized by the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) and Miami art curator Elizabeth Cerejido - and it’s brought Cuban and Cuban-American artists together to share not just styles but also ideas about the role art can play in this new era of U.S.-Cuba relations.

As of today, Cuba’s Roman Catholic Church has a new leader – a changing of the clerical guard that matters more on the communist island than it did in years past.

The departing Havana Archbishop, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, is 79 and has wanted to retire for a few years now. But the Vatican needed to retain his diplomatic skills. Ortega helped broker the recent normalization of relations between Cuba and the U.S.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

I’m eating crow on both sides of the Florida Straits today.

I owe an apology on this side to the Carnival Corporation. And one al otro lado to the Cuban government.

I wrote a column this week predicting it would snow in Havana before Cuba changed a rule that barred anyone born in Cuba, including those living in the U.S., from entering or leaving the island by ship.

File photo / El Nuevo Herald

Carnival Corporation's Fathom brand ship will cruise to Cuba May 1 as planned and Cuban-Americans will be welcome on board.

Cuban state media are reporting this morning that starting next Tuesday, anyone born in Cuba will now be allowed to enter and leave the island by ship. Until now, all Cuban-born persons - even those living in the U.S. - were barred from doing so under Cuban migration policy.

Ismael Franco / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Does the Carnival Corporation know something the rest of us don’t?

Because if it doesn’t, its Fathom cruise ship may not be heading to Cuba for a long time.

American businessmen, lawyers and government officials – in their eagerness to make hay from the normalization of U.S.-Cuba ties – too often forget a paramount rule about striking deals with communist Cuba:

It’s not the economy, stupid. It’s politics, both there and here.

Jose Luis Magana / AP via Miami Herald

This week Cuban-Americans here in South Florida have protested against a Cuban law that bars them from entering Cuba by ship. Thursday they got high-level backing. Presidential cabinet-level.

Susan Walsh / AP via Miami Herald

Luis Almagro is the Secretary General of the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS). As the head of the largest intergovernmental body in the Americas, Almagro has his eyes on a number of crises these days  not least of which is the possible impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff this week. But he does see one unusually bright spot in the Americas: The normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations.

And he hopes the two countries keep the ball moving forward.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

On Saturday, Cuba’s communist leaders will launch their seventh party congress – a gathering to set the island’s future political and economic course. It will run through Tuesday, April 19.

The last congress was held five years ago – but since then, Cuba has normalized relations with its sworn cold-war enemy, the United States.

When a man claiming to have on a suicide vest demanded to be flown to Cyprus this week, it wasn't terrorism as we know it. Instead, it was reminiscent of the skyjackings once commonplace in the U.S.

In his book The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking, Brendan Koerner writes that from 1961 to 1972, nearly 160 planes were hijacked in the U.S. Those early hijackings all had one thing in common: Cuba.

Tom Hudson / WLRN.org

In his historic speech from Havana last week, President Obama called for a number of changes in Cuba. More human rights. More economic reform.

But the one that seemed to elicit the most applause from Cubans was his call for more Internet – which Obama said “should be available across the island so that Cubans can connect to the wider world – and to one of the greatest engines of growth in human history.”

Only 5 percent of the island’s 11 million people have full household access to the Web. That’s one of the lowest –and slowest – Internet coverage rates in the world.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

It’s been 15 months since President Obama placed a phone call from the Oval Office in the White House to Havana, Cuba. He was calling Raul Castro. That conversation upturned more than a half century of American foreign policy as relations have moved from silent isolation to a presidential visit. A lot of history has been made in those short 15 months. Here's some of that history by the numbers:

 

88 • number of years since a sitting U.S. president visited Cuba

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