Here’s the conventional line you're hearing about President Obama and this week’s Summit of the Americas:
Up to now, Obama had been doing many smart things to improve dysfunctional U.S.-Latin American relations. On issues like immigration, the drug war and especially Cuba – in December he announced the U.S. would restore diplomatic relations with its cold-war communist foe – a gringo president was finally getting it.
Let’s say the U.S. representative to the Organization of American States – the Washington-based diplomatic body that embraces the western hemisphere – appears on a television talk show. And let’s say he makes this neanderthal remark about members of a rival political party:
“When a sniper shoots them in the head it makes a quieter sound, like a click, because their cranial cavities are hollow, so the bullet passes through faster.”
Kudos to British comedian John Oliver for his hilarious smackdown of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa this week.
The host of HBO’s satirical “Last Week Tonight” skewered – impaled, really – Correa and his juvenile social media war against anyone who dares criticize him. Oliver told the infamously thin-skinned presidente to “stop Googling yourself” and advised him that “being a world leader might not be for you.”
Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 3:47 pm
Responding to criticism over a scandal involving an alleged bombing cover-up and a prosecutor's death, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will write letters to Mia Farrow and Martina Navratilova, who tweeted about the case this week.
Here’s one indicator of how much things have changed between the United States and Cuba:
When President Obama announced last month that he planned to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba’s communist regime after a half-century of bitter estrangement, no one heard from former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. And no one really cared.
This past weekend, the top U.S. negotiator in the talks to normalize relations with communist Cuba stopped in Miami on her way back from Havana.
She briefed journalists from the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and WLRN about the historic negotiations – but she seemed more impressed by what she saw at lunch.
Roberta Jacobson is the assistant U.S. secretary of state for the western hemisphere. Last week in Havana, she and her delegation kicked off talks with Cuban officials to restore diplomatic ties, which were severed 54 years ago.
Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 2:35 pm
For more than three decades, a group of engineers has been transforming the municipal region of El Cuá, in Nicaragua’s northern highlands, by building a series of small hydroelectric plants. Thirty years ago, El Cuá was home to just 3,000 people. Since electrification, it has thrived: around 40,000 people live there now and they enjoy a higher standard of living. Electricity powers businesses and schools, refrigerates food and improves communication and information links.
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.
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.
Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 6:45 pm
Earlier this month, the U.S. government gave more than 200,000 Salvadorans living here temporarily the opportunity to stay for at least another 18 months.
These immigrants are on something called Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. It's for immigrants who are already living in the United States illegally when a natural or humanitarian disaster hits their home country.
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.
President Obama's decision last week to normalize relations with Cuba was bad news for Cuban exiles who oppose engagement with the communist island. And a new poll released over the weekend doesn't give them a lot of future comfort, either.
The survey by the Bendixen and Amandi International firm, conducted for the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and Tampa Bay Times, shows Cuban-Americans are split on President Obama’s new Cuba policy: 48 percent say they disagree with it while 44 percent agree.