Cuba

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For half a century, only charter flights have been allowed to ferry people from the U.S. into Cuba.

But today, the two cold-war foes will agree to let regular U.S. commercial flights land in the communist island: 20 a day into Havana and 10 daily into nine other Cuban cities.

“This means more people-to-people contact,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Transportation Thomas Engle told reporters over the weekend. “All to the good of mutual understanding.”

Franklin Reyes / AP via El Nuevo Herald

The U.S. and Cuba may have normalized relations, but the cold war-style defection is still common for Cuban baseball stars who want to ditch communism for the U.S. big leagues. Another one took place yesterday – and it was a double-header.

Many Major League Baseball scouts consider Yulieski Gurriel one of the best players Cuba has ever produced. Even at the age of 31, he’s a coveted power-hitting infielder. So is his 22-year-old brother Lourdes, who can play just about anywhere on the field.

City of Key West

  While the Miami-Dade County Commission recently asked the federal government not to place a Cuban consulate in that county, Key West officials are looking to strengthen ties across the Florida Straits.

  The island city now has two "ambassadors" to Cuba. One is former City Commissioner Tony Yaniz, who was awarded the title by two city commissioners. The other is Key West Yacht Club Commodore Robert Harvey — named by Mayor Craig Cates, who has frequently clashed with Yaniz  politically.

Alexandre Meneghini/REUTERS

There's rum. And then there's Havana Club.

It's a lighter style rum, distinctly Cuban.

But the label on the bottle and that word "Havana" may be just as important as what's inside the bottle.

Havana Club is a celebrated rum and a celebrated brand. So celebrated that powerful people are fighting over it: the distillers at Bacardi Limited and the Cuban government.

They've been locked in a long-running legal battle for control of the "Havana Club" brand.

Yahoo News

Currently there are 8,000 Cuban migrants making their way to the United States through Central America.

The Miami-Dade School Board  is making plans for accommodating incoming child migrants who will eventually need to enroll in classes.

Local leaders have not held back their concerns over incoming Cuban migrants from Central America. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado spoke about it at this week's school board meeting.

It won't be long until passengers will be able to take a ferry to Cuba from Miami, an idea that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago in a city that's home to Cuban exiles who fled from the Castro regime. The Obama administration approved licenses last year to companies that want to run ferries to Cuba. Several are interested. Still, it came as a surprise last week when the port of Miami said it's considering building a new ferry terminal on land that had been slated for development.

the Miami Herald

The mayors of Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami and a Hialeah commissioner are worried. They all say the county's not financially prepared for the imminent arrival of thousands of Cubans stranded in Costa Rica.

Last week,  a deal was made to airlift the  Cuban migrants stuck in Costa Rica to El Salvador so they can travel through Mexico to the U.S.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez thinks it should be the job of the federal government to take care of the migrants.  

Tim Padgett / WLRN

Ana Marrero pulls back her shirt sleeve and holds out her left arm.

“Look, in Cuban prisons I tried on various occasions to kill myself with knives,” she says.

She counts the succession of healed scars on her forearm. They look like horizontal tally marks.

“Uno, dos, tres, quarto, cinco, seis, siete, ocho,” she counts in Spanish.

Eight times.

These days, it’s a lot easier to travel between the U.S. and Cuba, but some Cubans have no interest in going back to their homeland.

Ramon Espinosa / Associated Press

“The year 2015 has seen more firsts than in 50 years,” says Tom Hudson, WLRN’s Florida Roundup host.

 

He spoke with WLRN’s Tim Padgett and Fusion’s Latin America editor Tim Rogers to discuss the pathway to normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations, the migrant crisis in Central America and Venezuela’s crumbling economy.

Latin Roots: Christmas In Cuba

Dec 24, 2015

Just in time for Christmas Eve, World Cafe heads to the tropics for a holiday-themed Latin Roots segment. Contributor Judy Cantor-Navas uses the occasion as an opportunity to look at Christmas in Cuba, with music from pre-revolutionary times right up until the present day.

Hear songs from the great Celia Cruz and more in this segment, and find even more to enjoy on Latin Roots' Cuban Christmas Spotify playlist.

Since President Obama opened a door to Cuba, there's been progress in the past year. Americans can travel there. The two countries reopened their embassies and have agreed to re-establish commercial air travel.

But on the financial front, progress has been slow. After a year, there's just one U.S. financial institution doing business with Cuba — and it's a small bank in Pompano Beach, Fla.

Noel López / Ocean Doctor

David Guggenheim fell in love with scuba diving and coral reefs in the 1970s when he attended a marine science camp in the Florida Keys. But over a career as a scientist and conservationist, he watched those coral reefs degrade and disappear.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

It’s been almost a year since President Obama announced the U.S. was normalizing relations with communist Cuba. Some Cuban dissidents embrace the move. But others - including artist Danilo Maldonado, known as "El Sexto" - say it’s done little to improve human rights on the island.

“El Sexto" (which means "the Sixth" in Spanish) just got out of prison in Cuba and is visiting Miami this week to convey that message.

PENAS BLANCAS, Costa Rica — As summer began to bake the central Cuban city of Sancti Spiritus, Elio Alvarez and Lideisy Hernandez sold their tiny apartment and everything in it for $5,000 and joined the largest migration from their homeland in decades.

The United States and Cuba signed an agreement Wednesday to join forces and protect the vast array of fish and corals they share as countries separated by just 90 miles (140 kilometers), the first environmental accord since announcing plans to renew diplomatic relations.

"We recognize we all share the same ocean and face the same challenges of understanding, managing, and conserving critical marine resources for future generations," said Kathryn Sullivan, chief of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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