Cuba

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Tom Hudson/WLRN

Elizabeth Duconge says she has quadrupled her income in the past two months. She had been an art curator in Havana. Now she works at a paladar in the Vedado district here.

Paladares are privately owned restaurants and some of the most visible reforms of the Cuban economy. Duconge said she makes 30 Cuban pesos a week waitressing at La Moraleja.

The Sunshine Economy in Cuba

Mar 21, 2016
Tom Hudson

Elizabeth Duconge says she has quadrupled her income in the past two months. She had been an art curator in Havana. Now she works at a paladar in the Vedado district here. Paladares are privately owned restaurants and some of the most visible reforms of the Cuban economy. Duconge said she makes $30 Cuban pesos a week waitressing at La Moraleja. “I didn’t have a way to support myself and my family,” she said a few hours before President Obama arrived in Cuba on Sunday. “I started to work here and it changed. Now I can help my family and support myself.

Tom Hudson / WLRN.org

President Obama is betting that business owners will be engines of change in communist Cuba. Especially millennials. Two of them will meet the President on Monday in Havana – and then head to Miami this summer for more intense biz training.

Oscar Matienzo is a 25-year-old Afro-Cuban with a sharp head for fashion and computer marketing. He’s put both those talents to work for Procle, the private clothing business his family owns in Havana.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Shortly before President Obama arrived in Cuba today, a human rights march turned into an ugly street confrontation - an incident that served to send Obama two opposing messages.

The President's historic visit to Havana this week is largely focused on the opening of economic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. But Cuba’s communist government and its pro-democracy dissidents are making it clear he can’t ignore the island’s political challenges.

Tom Hudson / WLRN.org

Cubans are getting ready for President Obama's historic three-day visit to their country starting Sunday. But the mood of the Cuban government and that of ordinary Cubans seem a bit different.

Tom Hudson / WLRN

President Obama is going to Cuba this weekend.

WLRN's Tom Hudson and Tim Padgett are there awaiting Obama's visit. What is the mood in Havana ahead of the historic trip? And they're looking at the changes that have occurred since the two nations started talking again.

Donald Trump looks like the Republican nominee in this presidential election, while Florida's Senator Marco Rubio is back in the halls of the senate, now that’s he no longer running for president. But, what do we make of his claim that he won’t return to politics after January?

Agencia Cubana de Noticias

The White House today offered a more detailed look at President Obama's itinerary for his historic visit to Cuba next week and the trip to Argentina that will follow.

Accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama and their two daughters, as well as the President's mother-in-law, Obama will arrive in Havana Sunday afternoon, March 20. With his family he will tour Old Havana, including the Roman Catholic cathedral there, where the President will be met by Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who helped facilitate negotiations that led to the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations in December 2014.

Tom Hudson

Just days away from the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba in 88 years, the White House announced another set of changes to American travel, trade and financial policies toward Cuba. The further easing of restrictions and the presidential trip come as three leading congressmen expect a vote before the end of the year on removing either the travel ban or the 54-year-old trade embargo.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Polls show most Cuban-Americans agree with President Obama’s normalization of relations with Cuba. But many are nonetheless wary of the historic visit he’s making there this month.

Which is why a top White House official came to Miami today to hear their concerns.

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

The Republican presidential candidates gathered at the University of Miami for its last debate before the Florida primary on Tuesday.

U.S.-CUBA RELATIONS

America’s changing relationship with Cuba was part of the discussion at last night’s Republican primary debate.

Donald Trump said he doesn’t agree entirely with President Barack Obama’s diplomatic openings with Cuba, but something needs to change.

“After 50 years, it’s enough time, folks," said Trump. But we have to make a good deal.”

After more than a decade, Major League Baseball is coming back to Cuba and it will have a very important spectator.

The White House announced on Tuesday that President Obama would be on hand in Havana to watch an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team on March 22.

The Rays will be the first MLB franchise to play on the island since the Orioles played an exhibition game in 1999.

Jose Goitia / AP via Miami Herald

Ramón Castro, the lesser known older brother of Cuban leaders Fidel and Raúl Castro, died Tuesday morning at age 91 in Havana.

The Cuban communist party newspaper Granma did not give a cause of death.

According to Granma, Ramón Castro was jailed by the Batista dictatorship in 1953 and helped supply the militants of the Cuban Revolution, who were led by Fidel. But after the revolution took power in 1959, Ramón largely shied away from politics and spent the rest of his life as a farmer.

Ramon Espinosa / Associated Press

This week, the White House announced President Obama and the First Lady will visit Cuba.

The trip will include meetings with a Castro as well as with Cuban entrepreneurs.

The decision for a presidential trip to Cuba comes with all the historic overtones that have accompanied the changing relationship between America and Cuba since late 2014 when the president announced a new strategy of engagement. It also came with the familiar criticism of the efforts.  We discuss the history and controversy surrounding the trip.

Carolyn Kaster / AP via Miami Herald

Back in December, in an interview with Yahoo! News, President Obama said this about the possibility that he'd visit Cuba in 2016:

“I am very much interested in going to Cuba, but I think the conditions have to be right.”

Most people thought he meant he first wanted to see more democratic and economic change on the socialist island. Since then, Cuban President Raúl Castro hasn’t announced any sort of reforms like freer political speech, multi-party elections or full Internet access.

The White House

President Obama plans to make a historic, if controversial, visit to Cuba next month in an effort to accelerate normalized relations with the socialist island. He confirmed the news Thursday morning.

Sources say Obama will visit Havana the week of March 21, most likely March 21 and 22. From there, according to media reports, he will travel to either Chile or Argentina.

According to ABC News, a National Security Council official will formally announce the President’s Cuba visit tomorrow at the White House.

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