For the first time in five decades, Cubans will no longer need an "exit permit" to travel. The change, which takes effect Monday, is part of a broader immigration reform by President Raul Castro making it easier for Cubans to go abroad — and also to return.
But critics say the communist government continues to treat travel as a privilege, not a right, and a useful tool to punish dissent.
In the Bolivar Plaza of downtown Caracas, supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrive carrying photographs of their leader and singing songs urging him on. Music blares from loudspeakers, repeating over and over, "Chavez, my commander, is here to stay."
Chavez, however, is most definitely not here, and increasingly many Venezuelans wonder if he'll ever be back. He flew to Cuba, Venezuela's closest ally, for an operation that took place on Dec. 11. Before leaving for his fourth cancer surgery, Chavez named a successor.
2012 may be remembered in Latin American for what didn't happen more than for what actually did, especially in Venezuela and Cuba.
The year began ominously for Venezuelan nationals living in South Florida. The U.S. State Department expelled the country's consul-general, alleging she was involved in a cyber-terrorism plot. In January, Venezuela's Miami consulate was shut down by President Hugo Chavez, who was facing a tough reelection campaign.
Today is Nochebuena, Christmas Eve, and for many Hispanics, that means roasting a whole pig. This Christmas tradition scared journalist and author Carlos Frias as a boy. But he got through it with one piece of advice: “Never look a pig in the eye.”
Frias told a version of this story at a Lip Service event:
We've had to focus on news about the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., since Friday, which means we missed some interesting stories over the past few days. NPR intern Rachel Brody shares one of them.
This is a story about a daily commute that spanned regimes, not just miles.
The Cuban government officially doesn't like reggaeton. As some of you know, reggaeton is that mix of Jamaican dancehall music and Spanish hip hop that you hear blasted through car speakers all over Miami and in almost any club you go to in the city.
I would say reggaeton is an acquired taste, but the Cuban government was some pretty serious feelings about this.
The Russian-American cat and mouse game that played out in Miami. Also, where the soldiers would spend their free time.
October 1962 was life-changing for Miami native Charles Carter. Though he was only 16, he skipped school to go to an Army Recruiting Office the morning after President Kennedy's speech revealed Russian missiles in Cuba. Because he was underage, his parents had to give permission for him to enlist. Luckily, they did. And soon Carter found himself manning a missile site in the 'Glades -- one of four hastily erected around South Florida in the fall of '62 (pictured in above photos taken by Carter).
If you aren’t old enough to remember, ask someone over 50. That day, when President Kennedy revealed in a national TV broadcast that there were missiles in Cuba, was life altering for many, especially in South Florida.
It was a day that inspired Miami native Charles Carter, who was 16, to skip school and go to the Army Recruiting Office. With his parents' consent, he successfully enlisted in the military and was assigned to one of the four, hastily built missile sites in the Everglades - a mere 90 miles from a potential nuclear threat.
Producer Rich Halten spoke to Carter and several other people who lived through that time, tapping their memories about the Cuban Missile Crisis, as this week marks the 50-year anniversary.
Archival audio is from the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives.
We were also fortunate to gather tales and memories from members of the Public Insight Network to enhance the already incredible story Halten produced. You can listen to the radio story above, and you can read what contributors remembered and thought of those two horrifying and sleepless weeks below.
There's one more presidential debate left, and it takes place in the most crucial swing state of them all. Host Phil Latzman along with panel of journalists, politicians and an academic discuss U.S. foreign policy and domestic issues important to Florida voters.
Today the Cuban government announced that Cubans will no longer need an exit visa from the state in order to leave the country for travel, etc. However, the government simultaneously cracked down on travel for high skilled workers.
As of January 14, 2012, Cubans will only need a visa from the country they are traveling to in order to leave the country.
For many Cubans living in South Florida, the pre-Castro years in Cuba represent a golden era. Nostalgia for friends, family and yesteryear traditions can be felt at Cuban coffee counters across South Florida. One local business owner decided to take this yearning for tradition one step further by selling coffee for 3 cents, the price it was sold for in pre-Castro Cuba.