Sam Sharpe/USA TODAY Sports

President Barack Obama's overtures to Cuba really kicked into high gear recently with the official re-opening of embassies in Havana and Washington.

But re-establishing diplomatic relations after more than half a century isn't a cure-all. Washington and Havana are still divided on many fronts, such as the ongoing US embargo, Cuba's poor treatment of dissidents on the island and the prison at Guantanamo Bay, though White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday the administration was close to a deal for shuttering the prison.

(This post was last updated at 10:45 a.m. ET.)

After 54 years of animosity, the United States and Cuba have formally restored diplomatic ties.

That means that the U.S. opened an embassy in Havana and Cuba opened an embassy in Washington, D.C., this morning.

Mimi Whitefield / Miami Herald

As the U.S. and Cuba re-establish diplomatic relations today – and open embassies in their respective capitals – all eyes are on Washington D.C. and Havana.

Except perhaps in South Florida. Here, all Cuban politics is local. So we care less about the hot air rising today in the Beltway (where U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez will meet) and in La Habana later this summer (when Kerry plans to visit and inaugurate a U.S. embassy there) and more about what this means for Miami-Dade, the Keys, Broward and Palm Beach.

Mark Hedden / For WLRN

When he was young, Jim Hale told a friend he was going to move to Key West and become "the pigeon king." His friend, a budding comedian, thought that was an excellent joke. But Hale was serious.

He did move to the Keys, 30 years ago, and he started keeping and breeding racing pigeons. He's been successful with that, and he's got an unexpected sideline: rescuing the racing pigeons that wind up in the Keys after they're blown off course from Cuba.
Don McDougall / flickr Creative Commons

Today on the Florida Roundup, how Carnival Corporation got the go-ahead from the U.S. to cruise to Cuba and how it will affect the island. 


Cuban dissidents are still experiencing violence on the island, but is it a sign that Obama's normalization policy is not working?

Carnival Corporation / Courtesy

The Cuban travel market bandwagon has recently gotten fuller.

The latest entrant, Carnival Corporation, joins multiple ferry companies and airline companies working to offer trips to the island.

Here's a list of all the ways people dreaming of Havana nights can travel to Cuba, how much they cost, and possible destinations.


1. Carnival cruises

Miami Herald

The world’s largest cruise line is the latest entrant to the Cuban travel market. Carnival Corporation announced Tuesday that it had received permission from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Department of Commerce to launch cruises to Cuba beginning in May 2016.

Jose A. Iglesias / El Nuevo Herald

President Obama’s announcement last week that the U.S. will restore diplomatic relations with communist Cuba on July 20 – and will open an embassy there a few days after – is angering South Florida lawmakers.

Their options to stop the Administration are limited. But they’re moving against Obama’s new engagement policy nonetheless, and it’s shaping up as one of the summer’s big political battles.

The rhetoric from the Cuban-American congressional caucus is rising with the humid temperature in Washington, D.C.

Ramon Espinosa / AP

On Wednesday, President Obama announced that the U.S. has agreed to formally restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, which were severed 54 years ago.

It is the first major piece of the plan Obama laid out on December 17 to normalize ties with the communist island.

The U.S. and Cuba have also reached an agreement to reopen embassies in each other’s capitals. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to be in Cuba to open the U.S. embassy.

Al Diaz / AP

It was the first major story I ever covered here in Miami.

The first – and quite possibly the worst. But it’s worth recalling because it led us to the Cuba moment Miami is living right now.

This Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the end of the Elián González drama – the ugly international custody battle that gave the cable news networks bizarre fodder for seven long months in 1999 and 2000.