Cuba

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Like Michael J. Fox struggling to power his DeLorean back to the future, the United States and Cuba on Wednesday start the labor of propelling their relations out of a Cold-War time warp and into the 21st Century.

Senior officials from both sides will meet in Havana to make history. They’ll launch talks to re-establish diplomatic ties that were severed 54 years ago in the wake of Cuba’s communist revolution.

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President Obama’s annual State of the Union address aired Tuesday night. It’s customary for the president, the first lady and congresspeople to invite guests to the address, and Florida viewers may have recognize a few names and faces. The guests ran the gamut from former political prisoners to activists.

ALAN AND JUDY GROSS

The president invited aid contractor and recently freed Cuban political prisoner Alan Gross and his wife, Judy, to Tuesday evening’s address.

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Don McDougall / flickr Creative Commons

On the Florida Roundup we talk to the area's journalists about the week's top stories. 

Cuban Adjustment Act

A Sun-Sentinel yearlong investigation finds more than $2 billion within two decades was fraudulently brought into Cuba and how the Cuban Adjustment Act plays a role in letting the criminals get away without prosecution. 

Haiti

Day Donaldson / Flickr Creative Commons

On Thursday President Obama finalized a big part of his efforts to normalize relations with communist Cuba. And they take effect Friday, much earlier than expected. They include loosening travel and trade restrictions – but the question from those who know the Havana regime well is: Will Cuba loosen up too?

The new regs make it much easier for Americans to travel to Cuba and spend money there. They can even use U.S. credit cards. They can also do more business with Cubans – export capital goods like telecom equipment and help finance small Cuban enterprises.

Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

What President Obama did on December 17 was hardly going to prevent what Cuban leader Raúl Castro did on December 30.

Obama last month announced plans to normalize relations with communist Cuba, which were severed 54 years ago. As if to test the waters in the wake of that historic decision, a new Cuban dissident group called Yo También Exijo (I Also Demand) called a free-speech gathering in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución for December 30.

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Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Julia Longoria / WLRN

It's been 13 years since the first prisoners arrived at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. To mark that anniversary, this past Sunday protesters took to the streets in cities across the country.

But among all those cities, 64-year-old Miamian Linda Belgrave said Doral was one of the most important places to protest and demand that President Obama make good on the promise he made in 2009: to close the Guantánamo Bay prison.

DeWolfe and Wood Collection / Monroe County Public Library

 In the '60s, '70s and '80s, waves of Cuban immigrants crossed the Florida Straits, seeking political freedom and economic opportunity. Soon they were starting their own businesses and winning political office, infusing Cuban culture into the DNA of a South Florida city.

The city was Key West. And this was the 1860s, '70s and '80s.

WLRN

Miami is not a top departure point for American goods headed to Cuba. So say the official U.S. government trade statistics. Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale is the second-largest American port from which goods are sent to Cuba.

Yes, despite the 53-year-old trade embargo, America still does a little business with Cuba. The U.S. sells fresh and frozen chicken, soybeans, corn and an assortment of other food and medical supplies. 

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  Editor's note: This is a pre-recorded episode.

In this episode of The Florida Roundup, we discuss what's ahead for Floridians in the new year. 

POLITICAL LEADERS

A few political possibilities hang in the air for 2015. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is making way for a 2016 presidential run. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez reconsiders his party affiliation. While this isn't an election year, candidates will make their future intentions known.  

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