Tim Padget /

President Obama’s policy of normalizing relations with communist Cuba enjoys larger than expected support among Cubans in Miami-Dade County, according to a new poll.

Florida International University’s biannual Cuba Poll shows almost two-thirds, or 64 percent, of Miami-Dade’s Cuban cohort back normalization, which Obama announced in December 2014. Sixty-nine percent back last year’s re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Tim Padgett /

After weeks of controversy – and a surprising change by Cuban President Raúl Castro – the first U.S. cruise ship in more than 50 years set sail for Cuba on Sunday.

But this was a historic maiden voyage that almost never left port. That’s because the Miami-based Carnival cruise line became the target of protests last month by Cuban-Americans, who were angry about a Cuban rule that barred anyone born in Cuba from entering the island by sea.

Jose Luis Magana / AP via Miami Herald

This week Cuban-Americans here in South Florida have protested against a Cuban law that bars them from entering Cuba by ship. Thursday they got high-level backing. Presidential cabinet-level.

Tim Padgett /

Polls show most Cuban-Americans agree with President Obama’s normalization of relations with Cuba. But many are nonetheless wary of the historic visit he’s making there this month.

Which is why a top White House official came to Miami today to hear their concerns.

Carolyn Kaster / AP via Miami Herald

Back in December, in an interview with Yahoo! News, President Obama said this about the possibility that he'd visit Cuba in 2016:

“I am very much interested in going to Cuba, but I think the conditions have to be right.”

Most people thought he meant he first wanted to see more democratic and economic change on the socialist island. Since then, Cuban President Raúl Castro hasn’t announced any sort of reforms like freer political speech, multi-party elections or full Internet access.

Tim Padgett /

As Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Cuba on Sunday, Cuban-Americans did the same here in South Florida – but most prayed that the Pope would convince Cuba’s communist leader, Raúl Castro, to adopt more democratic reforms on the island.

At La Ermita Roman Catholic church in Coconut Grove – a shrine to Cuba’s patron saint, Our Lady of Charity – Sunday morning Mass was standing-room-only. And many had just finished listening to Pope Francis’ homily live from Havana on Spanish-language radio.

Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

Few of Tuesday’s elections were as hard fought as Florida’s 26th congressional district – where Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo unseated incumbent Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia.

But the race is less likely to be remembered for that result than for how it may end up dropping the curtain on a time-honored Miami political tradition: playing the Cuba card.

Eileen Suarez / New Theatre

This story originally ran October 28, 2014. It was rebroadcast May 6, 2015.

“Taste this, Siomara, and tell me that this doesn’t taste like Cuba.”

“Mom, I don’t know what Cuba tastes like.”

-- from “The Cuban Spring” by Vanessa Garcia

Charlie Crist campaign

Latinos, as if you needed more media reminding, are America’s largest minority today. Winning their swing vote matters more than ever – even if means politicians making speeches in really bad Spanish.

In Florida, that exercise used to be a day at the beach. Or rather, an hour at Miami’s Versailles restaurant. Drink a café cubano. Declare your hatred for Fidel Castro. Head to the next campaign stop.

But that was back when Latino in Florida meant almost exclusively Cuban. And Cuban meant Republican.

Wilson Sayre

David’s Café, an iconic South Beach haunt for locals and tourists alike, closed its doors for good this weekend.

Located the corner of 11th Street and Collins Avenue, David’s was flanked road construction that has dragged on for almost a year. The project has blocked sidewalks and increased gridlock. Adrian Gonzalez, owner, blamed the construction and the recession for sealing the café’s fate.

Real Time With Bill Maher / HBO

What does Charlie know that we don’t know?

Charlie Crist, Florida’s ex-Republican governor and now its leading Democratic gubernatorial candidate, assumed a real political risk this month: He called on Washington to lift the 52-year-old U.S. trade embargo against communist Cuba.

In an interview with WLRN, Crist insisted his changed stance is a matter of common sense.