Cuba

Cuba's Next Communists: Why Obama Needs Them To Make Engagement Work

Apr 15, 2015
Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Cuban President Raúl Castro was the longest speaker at last weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Panama. At age 83, he was also the oldest.

And that matters as the U.S. and Cuba normalize relations after a half century of cold war – a process that on Tuesday led President Obama to remove Cuba from the State Department’s list of terrorism sponsors.

It matters because President Obama says his new engagement policy isn’t meant to change Cuba overnight. It’s meant to help the U.S. influence democratic change once Castro’s generation of hardline communists is gone.

U.S. To Remove Cuba From List Of State Sponsors Of Terror

Apr 14, 2015
Summit of the Americas

  After 33 years of designating Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism, the United States is removing its Caribbean neighbor from a list of terrorist nations in another sign of warming relations between the two countries.

President Barack Obama said a message to Congress Tuesday saying Cuba would be removed from the list because it had not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding six months and that Cuba had provided assurances that it would not support acts of international terrorism in the future.

Tom Hudson

  Rob Valle used to fly fighter jets for the U.S. Navy. Now he flies charter flights for his company Air Key West. Since late March that has included a weekly scheduled flight from Key West International Airport to Havana. He fits nine passengers, including one in the co-pilot seat next to him. They pay $525 for the round-trip flight.

Presidencia de Panama

The Summit of the Americas kicks off Friday evening when the hemisphere’s heads of state inaugurate the two-day gathering in downtown Panama City. But while there a host of issues to discuss, all eyes are on just two guys: President Obama and Cuban leader Raúl Castro.

Perhaps embodying the experience of many Miami residents, Jonathan Brooks is torn between two lands. His American father and Cuban mother raised Brooks in an environment that he describes as equal parts “Que Pasa U.S.A.?” and “I Love Lucy.”

Brooks, a writer, photographer and filmmaker, recently published the book "True Cuba," partially in response to "Vamos a Cuba," which was pulled from Miami-Dade County public school libraries in 2006 for portraying what critics called an unrealistic depiction of life on the island.

Arnulfo Franco / AP

Here’s the conventional line you're hearing about President Obama and this week’s Summit of the Americas:

Up to now, Obama had been doing many smart things to improve dysfunctional U.S.-Latin American relations. On issues like immigration, the drug war and especially Cuba – in December he announced the U.S. would restore diplomatic relations with its cold-war communist foe – a gringo president was finally getting it.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Guennady Rodriguez may be a Cuban émigré, but his musical tastes aren’t exactly counter-revolutionary.

Inside his apartment near Miami International Airport, Rodriguez likes to pull out his guitar and strum tunes by Pablo Milanés, a Cuban troubadour who’s considered a favorite of the Castro regime.

It’s when the 33-year-old Rodriguez puts on a suit and tie and goes to work in downtown Miami that his break with Havana becomes obvious. Rodriguez is a senior sales executive at a large international company that organizes corporate events.

Andre Deak / Flickr

The meeting of heads of state from throughout the western hemisphere known as the Summit of the Americas starts later this week in Panama.

For the first time, Cuba will be there – and so will Cuba’s most famous dissident blogger, Yoani Sánchez.

MarcoRubio.com

Editor's note: This is a pre-recorded episode of the Florida Roundup. There is no live chat this week. 

On the Florida Roundup, we talk about the week's top news with the area's top journalists.

National Politics

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